Users selected at random from outside the Times will be able to access the site to provide feedback while Times employees have access from within the company firewall to "experiment", according to a release.
"They can navigate through and experience the article pages completely in this format until they opt to change back," manager of corporate communications at the New York Times Linda Zebian told Journalism.co.uk. "So they can always change back to the original version if they wanted to."
Developers plan to enhance the site with a new design involving better incorporation of media, customisable navigation for registered users and improved integration of comments and share tools. The public can preview the site through an animated tour.
"We haven't done a major site redesign since 1996 so we want to enhance the site, we want to improve the overall experience for readers and advertisers," Zebain added.
"We just want it to be a richer digital platform."
In terms of the presentation, Zebian pointed to the recent 'Snow Fall' interactive on the New York Times website as a point of reference for how the new website will look.
"It's a cleaner design, it integrates the photography and the multimedia within the story, so it just tells the story more richly."
Users can request an invitation to test the prototype, subject to availability, and the new features will go live later in the year.
The redesigned site on iPad
Free daily newsletter
- Throwback Thursday: What media stories made headlines in August 2010 and why?
- Tip: Take note of this reporting advice from experienced journalists
- #newsrw: How to follow along with the latest newsrewired event
- How NBC News designs digital products with the audience in mind
- New podcast produced in partnership with NYT presents 'journalism disguised as a game show'