WSJ redesign
Credit: Image from Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is to launch its first web redesign in seven years, along with a news app for the forthcoming Apple Watch.

The refurbished WSJ.com is set to go live on April 21, signposting a move away from the Journal's text-heavy look with a less cluttered navigation and a responsive design optimised for desktop, smartphones and tablets.

"The way we think of it is it's not just a redesign, it's a new platform on which we'll build," Almar Latour, executive editor at the Journal, told Journalism.co.uk.

"This is not about flipping a switch and then, 'OK, we're done'."

While competitors such as the New York Times and the Washington Post launched responsive sites some time ago, the Journal appears to be taking steps to ensure it can move more quickly for future digital developments and trends.

We thought we could move even faster if we took away some of the delineationAlmar Latour, WSJ
Capital New York reports that a memo circulated to Journal staff last Friday (April 10) by editor in chief Gerry Baker announced that the newsroom would be joined by "web designers, mobile coders and digital developers" from May 2015.

Though the Journal's news and development teams worked "side by side" on the new site design, Latour noted the siloed nature of having teams located on separate floors and with separate reporting structures meant progress was perhaps not as fast as it might have been.

"Even if you're working together quite closely on a project, we thought we could move even faster if we took away some of the delineation," he explained.

As publishers catch on to the fact that encouraging closer collaboration between developers and editorial can lead to better, swifter digital innovation, integrated newsrooms are cropping up everywhere from Quartz to the Washington Post.

By absorbing web designers into the newsroom, editorial will for the first time have direct oversight over the "look and feel" of WSJ.com.

Mobile developers will also be seated in the newsroom, with the aim being that any new projects and iterations of products and apps will benefit from more editorial knowledge of the outlet's audience, content and storytelling formats.

"We think this is a significant next step to help shape our digital future in a much more effective way than we have in the past," said Latour.

Though it may have been late to the party with responsive web design, the Journal is losing no time over the launch of its Apple Watch app, which will be released when the device hits retailers on April 24.

As well as the obvious news headlines, the app will feature real-time markets and financials data from Dow Jones, the Journal's owner – coverage Latour noted the outlet is keen to "double-down" on as one of its "core strengths".

Similarly, an extended "market data centre" is already live on the website and will take a prominent place on the new homepage.

New article pages and section fronts, also part of the redesign, were rolled out iteratively at the end of last year.

I've consistently said that anything that can be mobile, will be mobileAlmar Latour, WSJ
Following the integration of design, development and editorial teams, the Journal is also planning to strengthen its focus on audience development, visual journalism and data journalism in the near future.

However, the biggest focus for the Journal right now is mobile.

According to the latest comScore figures, the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, which includes all digital properties, received 30.7 million unique visitors in March – with around half of those coming from smartphones or tablet devices.

While Latour described desktop traffic as "still very robust", he added that he expected the outlet's proportion of mobile visitors to "grow aggressively".

"I've consistently said that anything that can be mobile, will be mobile," he continued.

"If there's anything in which we're expanding and fortifying the newsroom for more than anything else then clearly that's mobile."

Update: This article was updated on 16/04/15 to clarify comScore figures for the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, as opposed to just the Wall Street Journal.

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