On May 12, Dow Jones & Co.'s MarketWatch.com unveiled its first significant overhaul in a decade.
The site features a new interface with an updated look and navigation scheme; a new video player; and integration of user comments throughout the site. There are also improvements in many of the tools, such as personal portfolios and charting, that are essential for an audience that's “maniacally focused on markets,” said Gordon McLeod, president of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.
MarketWatch.com is the second site within the Wall Street Journal Digital Network to be relaunched since last September, when WSJ.com introduced a major redesign. The Web site for Barron's is being relaunched this month. There are no plans right now to redo AllThingsD.com, the fourth site in the network.
While the new platform makes it easier for the sites to share content, “the worst thing we could do is to go overboard and have one editorial team that just creates content for all the sites,” McLeod said.
For the past several months, Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, has been gathering key representatives from the four network brands for a face-to-face meeting every morning to work out which stories will be covered by each brand and how, McLeod said.
In addition to leveraging its editorial intelligence, MarketWatch is trying to engage its audience more than ever before. “We launched Community on MarketWatch a year and a half ago, but it was kind of in its own world,” McLeod said. “Now you can comment all over the place. [Social features] are more easily accessible, so that you don't have to go to the community section to get involved.”
This active user engagement turned out to be a mixed blessing on the day of the relaunch, however.
Although it may be impossible to determine how many individuals were posting—because people could have logged on from more than one device and used more than one name—there were more than 800 comments on that first day. Some posts involved ordinary technical questions, but others used the comments and forums to voice their extreme displeasure.
“Plain and simple ... the new MarketWatch site is HORRIBLE,” commented MacD, using upper case for emphasis. “Sorry you missed the mark and market by a Zillion Miles,” opined AAAmerican, who wrote dozens of posts. “What a shame that you screwed up something so good,” wrote BRandall.
Immediately, the MarketWatch team moved to help users with technical issues, particularly through a discussion group on the redesign hosted by Jim Bernard, general manager. MarketWatch also incorporated some nonessential changes that seemed especially important to users, including enlarging avatars for community members and providing more comments on each comment page.
Six days after the relaunch, one user, SavCD, captured a sentiment that was becoming more common: “Thanks! You are making great progress. We haven't had this kind of action any time before.”
“The site is always going to be a work in progress, but it's now on a brand-new platform with a stronger design,” McLeod said. “It's a better working site, so the changes will be easier and faster. That's part of what the site rebuild gives us.”