The venerable local arts and entertainment guide Citysearch, which has, in the last couple of years, confronted a new generation of challengers (mostly notably Yelp), launched a broad redesign last night. The comprehensive new site introduces the ability to get more listings and content at the neighborhood level, allows users to sign in using Facebook Connect, which will broadcast their activity back to Facebook, and embraces mobile in a much bigger way.
The new design has more of a social network feel to it and is more usable overall.
With the new design, Citysearch is also seeking to balance the interests of business owners with those of users. One example of that effort is the presentation on every profile page of the site’s “three voices” (business owners, editors, and reviewer-users):
The new mobile site detects the device users are on and adapts accordingly. An iPhone app is coming. But most significantly, the new mobile site will enable users to generate reviews on the go, via their handsets through a simplified interface and process.
Mobile users will start to become a major source of “online reviews” in the near future.
Beyond a local search engine or A&E destination, another way of looking at Citysearch is as an SEO play for local businesses. And Citysearch has clearly redesigned with enhanced ranking and SEO in mind. But the Facebook distribution (via Facebook Connect login) is also significant and could boost the profile of Citysearch merchants as well as the site itself.