UPDATE: This is sweet. The new Sun video player is huge (at least by web standards).

The Vancouver Sun, the local quality daily, has gone live with a remake of its web site. I haven’t had a chance to dig too deeply into yet, but it’s nicely done. The site is about 20 per cent wider, photos are bigger and there’s still lots of content on the front but it’s much better organized.

newsun.jpg

For comparison, heres a screenshot of the old site, snapped just before 3 p.m. The improvement is vast.

oldsun.jpg

Some of the changes I’ve so far noticed: the site finally has its own URL (before it was a subdirectory of the canada.com site), the top navigation bar is two-deep and that makes finding info much quicker, multimedia is much easier to find (some of the my j-students didn’t even know the Sun does multimedia), blogs are prominently featured, extended photo coverage and videos that accompany stories are included in tabbed windows with the stories (other newspapers take note) and some articles are accompanied by sidebars with related stories from other CanWest newspapers and other media sources.

There’s an awful lot of like here. I’ve criticized the Sun in the past for its online presence but the redesign (which amounts to a fairly substantial rethinking) and other recent moves (including a heavy presence by Sun staffers on Twitter) indicate they’re catching up to the online potential for newspapers quickly.

This isn’t a Sun exclusive design. Strolling round the web, I notice both the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald, also owned by CanWest, share the same new look and I suspect the other CanWest dailies do, too. There are variations in layout at the three sites that I’ve looked at.

I don’t have a problem with that. It will, long-term, be content and how the site is used that determines the value.

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