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Journalism Web Design

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Designing a usable and aesthetically pleasing news site is a daunting task. You have to provide room for advertisements but not let them overtake the page, and allocate space to a large amount of content without cramping the look and feel of the site. Developers have adopted a number of different techniques to try and overcome this obstacle; some of them work and some of them don’t.

My two favorite elements of most news sites are 1) the basic dark-on-light color scheme and 2) the gridded layout. I like them, if I’m honest, because they remind me of newsprint, and I like newsprint. The design of newspapers, however you feel about them, worked. Newsprint is easy to read. Grid or column-based layouts are recognizable formats to anyone who grew up reading newspapers. This makes perusing the site simple because it comes second hand.

News sites don’t have to change what isn’t broken just because they’re switching to a new medium. The Drudge Report is a great example of that.  Drudge may not be the most beautiful thing to look at, but philosophically beauty is not always concerned with looks, but form- and the form of that site is very pleasing. It’s efficient. There is one large headline signifying a breaking story, followed by 3 columns of news. There are no slide shows or layers of tabs to sift through. You simply go to drudge and get the news. I think more sites would do well to copy it.

I am not, however, a fan of tabbed content areas. I really don’t care what the most popular article on a certain site is. In my experience they’re normally tripe. If thousands of people want to share a link about Seal and Heidi Klum breaking up, that’s fine; just don’t clutter my news experience with it. I also don’t like banner ads, but specifically ones placed amidst the rest of the grids. The New York Times has done this on several occasions, and if I wasn’t savvy with adblock, I’d have stopped going there.

Overall, if there’s anything most news sites have failed to do (Drudge aside), it’s to break away and differentiate themselves. Gone are the days of the beautiful masthead on newsprint, but that doesn’t mean this concept can’t be revived online.


Written by kolchak

January 26, 2012 at 1:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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