Bravo to the The New York Times. They just launched a new feature called My Times that allows you to create your very own Internet start-page that aggregates content from the Times, but also from a variety of other important Internet sources. You’ve heard all the hype about RSS thanks to the “blog explosion,” but every news/informational site that matters (blog or not) offers an RSS feed of its content, and now you can funnel all of that content through the My Times portal.
Take a look at this screen shot:
The Times is not breaking new ground here. Yahoo! has had a similar feature for many years. The Times version is very similar (right down to the naming convention) but here is what makes it unique in my eyes:
1) Design, usability, spacing – these are hallmarks of The New York Times brand as far as i’m concerned. They just do a great job of organizing an abundance of information in a user-friendly way.
2) The Times is arguably the best and most complete source of international news in the world, and any portal that so thoroughly integrates its breadth of content becomes immediately unique and useful.
3) It’s not weighted down with advertisements.
4) You can customize your My Times with widgets!
The only thing I don’t like is that you are limited in terms of the number of modules you can have on any one page – it forces you to create new pages:
I suppose the “forced” organization could be deemed a blessing in disguise.
Such initiatives are vital for the beleaguered newspaper industry that has experienced a sharp decline in print advertising dollars as marketers have focussed on more profitable Internet marketing initiatives. There were four major independent newspaper companies before the Bancroft’s agreed to sell the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The Bancroft’s were forced to sell because they failed to keep the Journal on the cutting edge of technology. Let’s hope that the Times will continue their leadership and continue to be responsive to the needs of its customers.