Microsoft Redesigns MSN Porta
Nov 4, 2009- Mike Shields
Microsoft's Web portal MSN today unveils its most significant redesign
in a decade, as the company looks to increase engagement on the property
while spurring usage of its fledgling Bing search product.
"We think we've designed the best home page on the Web," said
Scott Moore, U.S. executive producer, MSN. According to Moore, the new
home page is designed to focus on four key areas of overarching consumer
interest: video, social networking, search and local news/information.
The revise also considerably pares down the amount of text links on the
front page; instead of links to over 30 channels, there are now five key
sections: News, Entertainment, Sports, Money and Lifestyle. The result
is a strikingly cleaner, more sparse look. "This was a complete overhaul,"
That overhaul is not necessarily aimed at luring new users, but will keep
MSN regulars around. "We already have 100 million users in the U.S.,
which is a fairly mature Web market. Our biggest goal is to drive engagement,"
To that end, like its portal brethren Yahoo and AOL, the new MSN allows
users to interact with their e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts without
leaving the home page. Plus, users will be able to access more local information
via a new product that incorporates real time local information -- much
of which is culled from Bing.
Moore said that when he left Yahoo to rejoin MSN last year, he had planned
on launching his own local Web startup. Instead, many of the concepts
he explored at that time have made their way onto the new local component
of MSN. For example, users can sift through automated listings of regional
events without visiting another site. "No one else has this,"
said Moore, who added that the product represents the "intersection
of search and browse."
Microsoft hopes this intersection will encourage more users to try Bing,
which has been well received but still trails Google by a huge margin.
"Bing has great awareness," said Moore. "But getting someone
to use it regularly is another thing entirely."
Advertising-wise, not much has changed in terms of the types of units
MSN will offer. What should appeal to brands, said Moore, is how their
creative looks on this much cleaner page. "We deliberately left a
fair amount of white space around ads," he said. "We think this
makes them really pop."