The new-look Times Online

I was shocked when I checked Times Online last night. It looked absolutely different. It changed to a new look four days ago, says Times Online editor in chief Anne Spackman, to be more accessible and easily navigable. But as a result it looks like a WordPress blog, and not a well-designed one at that. The black and lime green nameplate looked dreadful at first sight. The old design with the elegant black nameplate had a touch of class. It suggested quality journalism. The new design with its liberal use of red and blue and green sheds the old image completely.

Rupert Murdoch obviously doesn’t go for looks. The Times today looks like any other tabloid, what sets it apart is the content. But while the makeover to a tabloid might have made sense, why redesign the website? It was already running blogs and interacting with readers. One unstated reason may be advertising. The new design looks like a giant billboard with plenty of display space on the right.

There’s been one improvement, though. I could search for articles faster. "Sponsored by Windows Live" says the text next to the search box. What’s the bottom line?