The New York Times just publicly released their website redesign. Hit or bust?
Personal opinions, and I'm sure there will be many, don't really matter. Personally, I'm not too fond of the new design, since different content sections are difficult to distinguish one from another, making it difficult to really navigate among all of their homepage content.
I won't even go into the various internet marketing best practices that the New York Times is ignoring.
The key question from the website optimization viewpoint is whether the company actually split-tested the website live, on real users, and compared it against the old version to see how the redesign influences their key metrics.
There are no rules, but for a media site, the company should especially be watching:
a] Visitor / free subscriber conversion rate
b] Free subscriber / paid subscriber conversion rate
c] Visit frequency
d] Visit depth
e] Page impressions (which can then be converted into ad impression Dollars)
There are many other metrics and many other elements to take into consideration, but these would give at least a quick and brief overview of how the website's marketing effectiveness changed due to the redesign.
Only the New York Times can answer whether the redesign was a hit or a bust.
The question is if they're measuring the impact or not, and the even bigger question is if they split-tested the redesign upfront, before rolling out the new one to the entire public.
Too often companies don't really think of that, but rather just do a redesign without even testing if it improves their key metrics or not.
There's a reason for that, of course --> if you just spent a year redesigning your website, how are you going to explain to your boss that the previous version worked better and you just wasted dozens of thousands of Dollars ...