HindustanTimes.com, which recently got updated as a mobile-first platform, is targeting to expand its user base and engagement on the back of the new design.
The updated 'live feed style' news platform is expected to deliver better reader engagement, penetration and provide a higher user experience irrespective of the internet speed.
The new HT website mirrors LiveMint's design and user experience sensibilities. HT Digital Streams, which runs both the websites, had relaunched LiveMint with a similar design two years ago. The digital arm of HT Media has seen tremendous success in terms of monthly active users on LiveMint since its relaunch.
The company is hoping to replicate similar success on hindustantimes.com.
HT Digital runs popular news sites Hindustantimes.com, livemint.com, and Livehindustan.com and also niche platforms such as HT Auto, HT Tech, and HT Bangla. It currently has a monthly active user base of 150 million across group platforms.
“HT Digital is in a very strong growth curve and in the last couple of years, we have grown to be the No. 2 digital player in the country. There may be around 450 million internet users in the country currently and we reached around 150 million at a group level. That would be one out of three people. In the future, our thought is to get one in two people reading news in India on our platforms,” said Puneet Jain, CEO, HT Digital Streams, in an exclusive interview with BestMediaInfo.com.
Towards this end, HT Digital is making significant investments in its product infrastructure to be able to deliver the best-in-class user experience. They have recently upgraded their website to make it a mobile-first site.
“Apart from delivering best-in-class news, we are looking to deliver a best-in-class user experience. We want to marry these two axes and the recent upgrade of the HT site is in line with that initiative,” said Jain.
According to Jain, around 90% of visitors on their site are from mobile phones. So they have now developed the site to deliver a superior user-experience for mobile users. With this upgrade, irrespective of the user's origin, everyone will experience the same site, which will render itself and adapt to suit the various internet speeds and the form factor.
“This is both a user-experience upgrade as well as an architectural upgrade. That is the biggest change and it is a very large tech upgrade. We hope this will go a long way in growing overall engagement and penetration. We have been working on this for several months and launched it in January. So far we have got great feedback from our users and we are seeing healthy week-on-week improvement in the key KPIs,” Jain said.
In sync with print edition
The tech upgrade is also in line with the recent revamp HT did with their print edition. The newspaper’s appearance had been changed a few months back and QR codes have been added to provide a seamless migration from print to digital for the readers.
“We were probably the first newspaper in the country to be socially integrated. There were several such elements we introduced for the first time. With this site upgrade, we have introduced those elements to the digital site as well. We have unified the value proposition, so the way the users see the two brands will now be similar,” he said.
Introduction of paywall
Speaking about introducing a paywall on the site on the lines of LiveMint, which introduced a paywall last February, Jain said newspaper subscription is a key focus area and they are planning several interventions to improve their offering.
“We have introduced a paywall on Mint last year and we have seen a good response. There are several interventions we are planning to improve the overall value proposition to get more users to try that offering,” he said.