Britain’s biggest regional newspaper, Wolverhampton’s Express & Star, has relaunched its website in what it claims to be a regional first.
Publisher Midland News Association said the new “responsive” website resizes the layout according to the size of each user’s screen, including PCs, tablets and mobile devices.
The Express & Star site went live yesterday after the launch of the responsive website for sister title the Shropshire Star last month.
Managing director Phil Inman said: “We believe we are the first publisher in the UK to launch a website that responds to the way that the user is accessing it, reinforcing our desire to be customer driven.
“The MNA’s audience on mobile devices and tablets is growing so we wanted to ensure that users got the same excellent experience, matching that of desktop visitors.
“The new website will mean we can give digital advertisers the best possible response across all platforms.”
The paywall was put in place in April 2011 when breaking news remained free-to-access but readers were asked to pay £2.34 a week to receive the printed newspaper alongside full online and mobile apps access.
It also introduced a digital-only package but said that due to tax laws the £2.34 price tag would also incur VAT, bringing the cost to £2.81 per week.
Instead, it said it was launching new apps for the iPad and iPhone at a cost £1.49 a week or £3.99 a month.
Today the publisher said that “rather than creating apps for iPad or iPhone, the websites are published using a single layout, which automatically changes according to the user’s device”.
Head of digital William Beavis said the launch was the culmination of nine months of work by the in-house MNA Digital team, led by digital development manager Mark Cadman.
“Our mobile audience has doubled in the last year, with almost a third of visits now coming via handheld devices,” said Beavis.
“No matter which platform users visit, they will get the same experience and be offered the same advertisements.
“We are expecting to see an increase in response to advertising on our sites because we are able to serve them in a more user friendly way to all platforms, which is a positive message to take out to the market place”.
MNA said the “the move means that instead of booking individual adverts for each platform, advertisers can take out a single campaign to appear on all devices”, adding: “The sites also feature enhanced features including swipe functionality for pictures galleries, increased image sizes and improved navigation.”
According to the latest ABC figures released in August, expressandstar.com averages 44,786 unique browsers a day, up 32.8% year on year, and 788,444 unique browsers a month, up 35.6 per cent year on year.
Shropshirestar.com averages 16,969 daily unique browsers, up 23.2 per cent, and 359,989 monthly browsers, up 26.5.