“The consumer doesn’t pay for familiarity”: Rameet Arora, HT Digital Streams

Early this year Livemint, financial news brand from the house of HT Media, was redesigned. The convention of news and static pages was broken to create a new “website with one page”.

On the Digipub World stage, in Delhi last week, Rameet Arora, chief operating officer and head of digital brands, HT Digital Streams, claimed the effort has paid off – “broadly, we’re making three times the money we were making on a monthly basis…”

He chatted with Ashwini Gangal, executive editor, afaqs!, briefly, about the process, one that gave him and his team “sleepless nights”.

Edited excerpts.

Q. Your website is clean and neat, but it doesn’t look like a newspaper. It looks like social media feed. You have cards on the homepage… what’s that about?

Rameet: Many of us tend to be very condescending about social media, because… it’s social media. But truth is, there’s a lot to learn from social media – their ability to personalise, to be dynamic, to contextualise information, to engage us, the way they’ve mastered infinite scrolls…. When customers gave us feedback, a lot of their benchmarks were set by their experiences (on social). From a design point of view, why cards, feed and infinite scroll? Firstly, we wanted to give a simple, yet comprehensive, experience to customers for their needs through the day. Secondly, it makes it possible for them to make informed choices about what they click through – the concept of click-bait just died that minute. Thirdly, a structure like this gives customers relevance.

Also, from a content creator’s point of view, cards give us real speed when we go to market; whether it’s videos, infographics, widgets or ‘first out’ news, a card is a simple, standard format that can get replicated very quickly, dragged and dropped. There’s no page structure and discoverability to be concerned about.

Rameet Arora speaks to Ashwini Gangal at Digipub World 2019

Q. It’s all very well to re-design a site, but none of it makes sense if Google and Facebook don’t understand what you’re trying to do. Walk us through the algorithm challenges – did you learn that the hard way?

Rameet: (smiles) Google’s not dumb… just a little slow sometimes. In this case, we caught them by surprise.

We changed not just the design, but also the content hierarchy, the way we were looking at urls, and our back end. Over the first couple of months there was a huge SEO impact because Google took its time to index us.

The ecosystem – Google and Facebook, others – doesn’t always mirror your desire for design change. Also, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), FBIA (Facebook Instant Articles), the whole external distribution ecosystem that feeds into your website, simply wasn’t ready from a design point of view to be able to replicate something like this…. it’s been a struggle getting the external ecosystem to work in step with us. The SEO bit can be sorted out, but the big learning on the design front is – while design […]

Full article on original web page… www.afaqs.com

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