Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Northcliffe Digital (UK) relaunches its 26 "This is" regional news websites

Northcliffe Digital announced today that they have relaunched of its network of 26 'This is' regional websites. The new sites serve readers in the UK areas of Midlands, South West, North East and South East of England and South Wales.

"Delivering great local news content remains at the heart of our mission, but we are now moving towards a more interactive and relevant social experience for our users," Roland Bryan, Northcliffe Digital managing director said in the company's announcement.

"The new sites are built around our users and promote interaction between people, local businesses and our content. Every piece of content across the Thisis network has calls to action to allow our users the opportunity to create, respond or discuss. As the internet becomes more social, it's crucial that we enable conversations between individuals in the community, the businesses that serve them as well as the journalists who are leading the local news agenda," Bryan said.

The websites show a common look, and sport a rather wide top banner of around 1080 pixels, though the live area is a more standard 960 pixels.

The new sites contain local business directories that can be set up by the local companies themselves, creating "Business Profiles".

"These rich profile pages include information on services offered, images and video content, the ability to highlight featured customer reviews and attract followers who want to receive profile updates, location details and a link through to their own dedicated website. Local Deals give businesses the added option of uploading relevant special offers and discounts - adding value to their customer offering and increasing sales for specific lines of products and services," the company's announcement explains.

I'll admit that I find the look rather unappealing myself, and while there are plenty of new advertising units available to sell, only the top leaderboard makes an appearance 'above the fold'. But to each his own.