Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chicago Tribune redesigns its website, replacing story holes with headlines; continues trend towards 'clean'

Modern newspaper website design appears to be obsessed with presenting its readers with a clean presentation rather than a curated editorial look. The newly redesigned website for the Chicago Tribune, for example, could easily be confused with a vendor created website for a small town newspaper or one of the many Patch sites being created by the AOl division.

Have a look:
Relying heavily on white space, the new ChiTrib website contains a rolling series of headlines along its left hand side, a center column for one or two news stories 'above the fold" (depending on the size of your display) and a right hand column that has a weather widget (that looks like it was created in a high school graphics class) along with a medium rectangle ad followed by more headlines.

The overall look resembles a WordPress or Blogger template – though not a premium one – rather than a look created by a group of news editors. Compare the look of the new site with that of the New York Times, The Guardian, or a Patch site:
Yes, I really don't like the look of the site, but I also know that this is apparently where modern newspaper website design appears to be going (is there anyway to stop this?).

The problem I have with this look is that I find it counterproductive. A large portion of web traffic comes in through search, so home page design is pretty irrelevant to single article design. So that leaves that portion of the traffic that comes in through the front door – this is a problem with Blogger styled sites like TNM.

But here one sees one, maybe two stories other than the group of headlines. The good stuff is 'below the fold' where the Trib site looks much more like that of other news sites.

I might also add that it is just plain weird seeing this new site without a leaderboard ad at the top, or at least some sort of element above the flag.

What do you think? Am I too traditional in my website news design preferences?


Anonymous said...

In a word, dreadful.

Anonymous said...

To me it looks like one person was responsible for the top part of the home page, another person the bottom.