ST revamp: Fresh look takes in readers' suggestions

Six months ago, The Straits Times asked its readers what they would like to see as the paper hits its 170th year.

Since then, scores of readers have shared their views - and we have listened.

Come next month, both the print and digital editions of Singapore's most read newspaper will get a fresh look, incorporating ideas that readers have sent in. These include a ground-up overhaul of the digital editions.

Reader Alfred Lee said downloading new issues on his iPad has occasionally led to the app crashing or displaying wrong issues.

Reader Ng Yi Han also pointed out that reopening the mobile app after stopping at a certain page results in the app loading the pages from the beginning. "I expect it to be on the same page... I lose track of the page that I've read."

To address such concerns, technology consultancy Tigerspike, which has developed apps for The Economist and The Telegraph, was engaged to rebuild the paper's apps from the ground up, with new features and to make them more stable.

News stories will be told in pictures and videos - not just words - and readers will also be able to personalise the content feeds to suit their interests.

Another common suggestion was to cater to older readers by increasing the font size of the print edition. This will also be done. The broadsheet's new, custom- designed font - Selane - will be larger and more readable.

More than one reader said they like the bite-sized snippets on the fourth page - The News in Five Minutes - of the print edition.

But some, like Mr Alfred Mak, felt it should be made more prominent. "If the intention is to let a reader with no time know the latest important news in five minutes, then I feel that this section should be on the front page."

From next month, it will move up to the second page of the paper and be tweaked in a way that it becomes even more relevant. Apart from just summing up the news, it will also provide a short analysis of what it means to readers, and what could happen next.

Reactions from people present at yesterday's trade launch - including advertisers - were largely positive, said Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez.

"People I spoke to said they like that we are trying to stay closely connected to our readers and to get a sense of what they want... Because that's what we're here for - to serve our readers."

linettel@sph.com.sg