Fairfax NZ’s Rugbyheaven.co.nz site has been subsumed into the Stuff site. It’s all about making sure the traffic goes to one place (Stuff), and beating the total traffic and visitors at NZHerald. I was inside Fairfax Digital at the time, and felt the team did a great job with the design, and it is sad to see it gone.
A little of the look lives on, with the RugbyHeaven logo moved across to the new site integrated into Stuff. The standalone site extended the look of the logo, and used a lot of black – one method of demonstrating that it was principally there to support and report on NZ rugby.
Now we can see a bit of the way the old site used to look by looking at the new SuperXV.com site – which will be next year’s version of Super14.com. They have used a lot of the “black with holes” look, and the logo itself is very similar. I’m a bit surprised though at the use of black – a colour associated with the All Blacks, and not one that Australians or South African will really resonate with.
It’s completely fair though for SuperXV.com to copy the old Rugbyheaven.co.nz look. Firstly because the old site no longer exists, and secondly because Rugbyheaven.co.nz leaned heavily on rugbyheaven.com.au for design influence. That site has also lost its independence and is merely part of the smh.com.au empire.
The unanswered question for Fairfax and other publishers is whether it is better to have one enormous site with many sections, or standalone sites that capture and retain a certain market? The answer is a function not only of what audiences want, and you can measure that through traffic, but also on what is easier to sell for the advertising sales team. To me the integrated site, while not as fun, is the way to go for now. Advertising sales can still offer up section sponsorships to customers, while readers are less confused by the multiple sites, and traffic will be higher. On the other hand the international rugby fan traffic will be lower, but that’s harder to earn money from anyway. I would like to see a more distinctive look for rugby section though.