February 5, 2014

Give NBC News a medal: Major website redesigns often miss deadlines, but the newly responsive NBCNews.com has launched in time to take advantage of an influx in traffic from the Winter Olympics — especially via second-screen social referrals.

Before today, the mobile website lacked as many amenities as a Sochi hotel room. But now it embraces the strategy of an infinitely scrolling vertical stack of story cards with an emphasis on visuals that we’ve seen adopted recently by NPR and The Wire.

The NBC News website on a smartphone yesterday, left, and after today’s responsive design.

Among the biggest changes: faster load times, edge-to-edge photos spanning the entire screen, and article pages that automatically transition to a related story when readers reach the bottom.

NBC News is also launching two video series: Show Me, which offers animated explanations of complex data, and Debunker, which debuts with Al Roker explaining myths about the polar vortex.

“What we’re most interested in is changing how we tell stories,” said Gregory Gittrich, vice president of news and product for NBC News Digital, in a conference call previewing the site on Tuesday. “And we recognize that the best way to deliver news takes many forms, from standalone images to tweets that provide a little bit of context, to fully produced stories and fully packaged stories that we can marry with video.”

As the New York Times did in its January redesign, NBC News has adopted the app-influenced “hamburger” menu button at the top left of the page and finally changed its outdated blue headline style. Gittrich said updates to NBC News mobile apps are in the works too.

Said NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams in the call: “I think this is finally a home for all of us, commensurate with our good name and what we do and what we’ve done for so many years.”

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Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor,…
Sam Kirkland

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