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Macworld is proud to offer a sneak-peak at the redesigned beta version of

We’ve been hard at work on this for a while—and we still have a ways to go—but we decided to throw it open for public scrutiny. Feel free to have a look and offer up your feedback. We’ve created a dedicated forum for such comments, and we’ll take them all into consideration.

As Jason Snell wrote in the forums, not everything about the beta site is fully functional just yet—namely, forums, RSS feeds, newsletter links, and user accounts, to name a few. Some of these features just aren’t ready, and they won’t be until the site goes live.

Also worth noting is that we don’t have a complete article set in the beta site just yet, so articles posted today won’t appear concurrently on the beta site just yet. Several other issues are already known as well. If you bring up a known bug in the forum, we’ll try to acknowledge it and move on.

What to look for

We’re very interested to see how users navigate through the new site. Naturally, our homepage has always been the primary landing page and starting point for navigating deeper into the site. The existing site prominently features the headline roll (for news junkies, like me) and the Browse by Topic table (to point users to specific topic areas such as printers, digital cameras, layout software, etc.).

Those topic areas will still be available in the new site, but they’ll be closer to the “top” of the site and hopefully easier to find. And the “show-me-every-single-headline” option is still there too. It now resides in the Latest News box below the feature area. It offers top stories by day/week, top user-rated stories (a new feature) and the always-popular All Macworld option, which shows the last 30 articles posted. If that’s the view you want to start with each time you visit the site, you’ll eventually be able to set it as your default.

Once you start to navigate around you’ll likely notice that there are two possible paths used to arrive at individual articles, and two possible “page wrappers” once you’re there. That’s because the new site will offer navigation via Product or Topic.

The Product hierarchy contains four starting points, as seen in the top navigation bar: Mac, iPod, iPhone and More Products. Within those four primary categories there are several subcategories.

Some examples would be:

  • Mac -> Laptops -> MacBook
  • Mac -> Software -> Web Publishing
  • iPod -> Speakers
  • iPhone -> Accessories
  • More Products -> Digital Cameras

Just under the top navigation bar you’ll see our list of current Topics. These are based on themes more than product families. For example, when you click on Mobile Mac you’ll go to a page containing content spanning several different hardware and software product categories, but all related to mobile computing.

The idea being we want to give readers the option of navigating to the content that interests them using any number of ways, be it thematic or by product family. The top navigation bar also offers quick links to the News and Secrets/HowTo pages, for those interested in a particular story type. And Reviews will be spread far and wide over index pages. Eventually we plan to have a dedicated Reviews page.

Dig in

As I mentioned earlier, we still have work to do. So dig into the beta and poke around. Try to find the content you usually try to find on our existing site, and see how the navigation helps or hinders. Then get into the forum and give us the details.

[ Curt Poff is the online managing editor at Macworld.]

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