More than 150 new-look sites, including the Dorset Echo and Wirral Globe, went live over the weekend with changes made to improve site navigation, accessibility and search.
New features include more related news content, based on subject and place, attached to new articles and more cross-promotion of a title's print, social media and mobile outlets.
Cosmetic changes include new fonts, either serif or sans serif to be chosen by site editors, and a new colour scheme.
The revamp has also overhauled search on the site and created a browsable, digital archive of more than 4 million articles stretching back 10 years in some cases, Nigel Vincent, head of online editorial development told Journalism.co.uk.
The newspaper's name and logo has also been made more prominent on each site to reflect its position as a trusted news brand, 'because that's what people come to the site for', he said.
"We've made the site navigation clearer and the demarcation of content, especially commercial and editorial, clearer to help people from a visual perspective. We want to lead them to content that they want or perhaps to content that they didn't know was there," he said, adding that the look and feel of the sites' classifieds section has also been redesigned.
The changes were partly made in response to feedback from journalists, who have been given 'new tools to help them do their jobs' as part of an upgrade for the network's content management system, which included allowing for adding related links to articles.
But the focus is on the readers' needs, said Vincent: "It's all for the readers - attracting new ones and retaining existing users, and making sure they spend longer on the site."
The redesign is the first stage in a series of improvements planned for the sites, said Vincent.
The ability to create topic pages and link related content using the improved CMS technology is a current focus, but the publisher is also looking to do more with RSS feeds from third-party sources of information.
According to the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic figures for regional newspaper groups in the UK, Newsquest's regional newspaper audience attracted 4,719,906 unique users a month on average over the six months from July to December 2008.