Redesigning the News

Yesterday, the Newspaper that I used to work for redesigned their homepage. I was actually involved in some capacity as a consultant. My hands only touched back-end stuff like the Associated Press integration and tagging. This meant I had no involvement in the front-end design but I wish I did because in another life I would be a User Interface Designer.

Unfortunately, I felt that our website SignOnSanDiego initially missed the mark. The launch was riddled with bugs and the system wasn't playing friendly with FireFox. Fortunately the team solved many of the problems relatively quickly.

SignOnSanDiego - Homepage

The homepage looks a little more modern. Off the bat, we have larger pictures, a slider, and a new logo. More media, pictures and video, is the what the news industry thinks people want. But by presenting the tops stories in a slider, I'm not a fan. Sliders are distracting and annoying to say the least. I try to read the story's tease and BAM it changes on me.

You'll probably notice the logo. Is it in the archetype of a reputable news organization? I'm not sure, but you could probably slap it on a skate or surf board and still look cool.

SignOnSanDiego - Story

I don't want to comment on the story page because it must be a work in progress. Why is the lead photo on the left and pushing the story's body to the right? Yuck. I would either center blow up the lead photo or have it float to the right.

Overall, the feel is amateurish. But knowing the deadlines at their office I know they probably have more on their plate than they can handle! I hope to see a sleeker site in a few weeks.

The News and Homepage Redesigns
Who started this trend of homepage redesigns? Within the last three months I've noticed that almost everyone has jumped on the makeover mo-ped. If I were a gambling man, I would pin it on the Los Angeles Times. I noticed their change first. Let's look at it and some of the homepages for several of the larger news sources. I'm not yet a fan and hope to see some improvements here.

Los Angeles Times

I thought the old Los Angeles Times website was amazing. The light blue, white, and beige color scheme was beautiful. It already seemed modern and up-to-date. I was completely shocked to see it change. Though I was even more surprised to see it change for the better.

What's the new color scheme? It's black and white. We're talking about the news industry here. How did they pull off black and white and make it look hip and edgy whilst appealing to the young and old? As Paris would say “That's hot.”

You have large text, 16:9 photos, few ads, and a menu that works really -- really well. Notice how the menu doesn't overlay anything else. It belongs within two horizontal bars across the top of the page. Excellent! I commend you Mr. LA Times designer.


CNN's homepage looks like the news. There redesign seems to be focused more on usability rather than piling on the bells-and-whistles. And it works surprisingly well. What I notice most is that the Latest News links are almost immediately at your left-hand side. Great! It's the first place people look and they're probably looking for that.

The Washington Post

I'm really surprised here. In my opinion, The Washington Post has always been solid. I'm not sure why the new/local homepage looks the way it does. Is the color scheme vomit-green and grey?

Want to see some nasty menus?

And is it just me or does the Washington Post hate Opera? It won't even load in it.

The Guardian

The Guardian is always evolving. I swear it looks different every few months. Overall, I find the site very clean and easy to navigate. Not only is it one of the oldest news organizations in the world, they are outright trendy. Props to the Guardian for using some random colors, like two shades of fushia.

The New York Post

The New York Post has the best search menu bar ever. It's always where you'd expect it to be. Though, I think I have a love+hate relationship with The Post. At times, I think the site looks amazing. At others, it is FAR too cluttered.

The Post wins my heart with it's latest stories for each of the big NY neighborhoods, under NYC Now. It's perfectly aligned on the left edge of the page. But it's not all good for the Post. The menus, I'm sure with good intentions, is far too fanciful. Simply put, it does too much for a menu. I'm certain it would alienate the older crowd and I would expect the designers to go back to simpler system in the future.

The New York Times

I'm certain we'll see a redesign from The New York Times by the end of the year. Bank on it. One thing I hope they don't lose is the left-handed menu. How many times have I mentioned the phrase left-handed in this posting? Plenty! Because left-handing things are important to the user. It's where your eyes are trained to look. The NYT is the only news source that I know of that still denies a top horizontal menu. Ain't that strange... and oddly smart of them.

The Huffington Post

Okay you got me. The Huffington Post is a blog, not a news outlet. But did you catch the lead story though? Oh what fun it must be to be the Editor at The Huff. Seriously, I think it's a little too big.

Homepage Rankings
From sexiest to least, I'd say:

  1. The Los Angeles Times
  2. The Guardian
  3. The New York Post
  4. CNN
  5. The New York Times
  6. SignOnSanDiego/The Union-Tribune
  7. The Huffington Post
  8. The Washington Post

I'll come up with a real rankings system in a the week or so.

  1. gravatar

    # by orangeray - November 9, 2009 at 2:51 PM

    omg where on earth did you find the time to do this post.

    it was however one of the few posts i (as a laywoman) have been able to follow, and i found it really interesting.

    so more of that, please.