Rafat Ali reports today that after spending "millions" on a redesign, the all-new WSJ.com will launch "in the next few weeks", with a simple aim: "to drive more traffic in a bigger way".
At the margin, resdesigns can and do increase traffic. But the subscription firewall is a big problem: it’s very hard to persuade people to read a site where they find themselves running into error pages saying "sorry, you’re not allowed to read this".
I’m quite sure that the resdesign will continue the trend that WSJ.com has been following for the past few months, of having bigger headlines and more flexibility. But at heart it will remain a conservative site, which means that it won’t adopt a truly revolutionary idea for a newspaper website: having outbound links on its home page. I’d love to see some major media organization do that, though. Portfolio.com’s sister website Wired.com almost does it: it has a list of "hottest web links" on the home page, but it’s on a tab which you need to click on first. Who will take the plunge? On the internet, the more you send people away, the more they come back. Why don’t any newspaper websites understand this?