This past weekend the New York Times has launched Beta620, a public beta site for all of the NYTimes experimental projects. The purpose of these is to provide ample community testing and feedback to new features and functions which may later be implemented into the main NYT website. The beta site seems to be a replacement for Insights Lab, the company’s invite-only community, which has been mostly inactive since January 2011.
Beta620 launched with 3 featured experiments:
- TimesInstant – TimesInstant provides users with a lightning fast and gratifying search experience. Results appear instantly as users type, much like Google Instant.
- Community Hub – The Community Hub gives users a handy, informative dashboard to access the thousands of reader comments, ratings, recommendations and reviews that are part of the daily social activity on NYTimes.com. There are commenting stats, a comment feed, and recent articles and comments. Features coming soon include: Facebook friends’ comments and a graphical representation of commenting history.
- Smart Search Bar – Another twist on the search feature for the NYT, this one provides instantaneous, relevant and semantically aware feedback, while keeping the user on the homepage, unlike TimesInstant which requires it’s own search page.