June 5, 2002

LWN.net redesigns site, continues to look for new revenue sources

- By Grant Gross -

Linux news site LWN.net has been redesigned, with several changes under the hood intended to make adding new features easier and to bring more traffic to the site.
The new layout at LWN.net, launched last Friday, features a two-column layout and a new and improved back-end. "The old site was based on static HTML/PHP pages, while the new one is based on Python, Quixote, and Postgres," says Jonathan Corbet, executive editor. "So it allows us to do things like user accounts, a great deal of user customization of the site, comment posting, a true security alert and vulnerability database, with more to come."

All this is designed to bring in more readers and, by extension, more revenue. Since support from LWN was dropped by Tucows.com in October 2001, the site has been working on ways to increase revenue. LWN, launched in January 1998, was acquired by Tucows in April 2000.

After the "unacquisition," LWN launched an email discussion list to talk about ways for the independent Linux site to make money. The list is still occasionally active, and Corbet says LWN is working on some revenue ideas.

"We're doing better after our unacquisition -- $0 isn't too hard to beat," he says. "But we have a long way to go yet. We have some ideas that we're working on, mostly involving additional services that, we hope, people will be willing to pay for."

LWN's last redesign was in August 1998, when LWN moved from a single-page static format to multiple pages, and Corbet says the new design is getting mixed reviews, as changes often do. "We have not had the strong negative response that moving to the multi-page format created," he says. "Only one person has called us 'morons.' Our initial stylesheet was somewhat heavy-handed,
but we've taken care of that.

"Quite a few readers are concerned that we have moved the Weekly Edition off
the front page; we will simply have to convince them that our Weekly content remains an important part of the site and is certainly not going away," he adds.

One person on the mailing list asked for the old yellow color scheme back, but generally, those on the email list who pre-tested the site had positive things to say.

Another had this to say: "For the most part I like the new site, that said I really miss the links on the left side. It made my life MUCH easier when I was not at my own computer, all I had to remember was lwn.com/daily and I not only get the daily content but links to many of the other sites I visit. Please put them back or make a links page."

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