Thinking about online ‘newspaper’ design

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the best design for delivering news online. In a nutshell, I’d say there are three rules that must be followed:

  1. Make it crystal clear what your site is about — NO confusion!!!
  2. Make it white.
  3. Make it minimalist.

It’s pretty obvious that following these three rules has helped make Google the success it is today, so why do so many others continue to ignore them?

For example, I have yet to figure out what Daylife‘s about, Yahoo’s new Shine portal completely overloads me, and the Toronto Star‘s new health site not only has way too much going on on the page, but it’s also not clear whether the banner on top of the site is a logo or an ad. I had to click to find out it was the logo.

Funnily enough, what Google does on its main page is basically what broadsheet newspapers have done for decades.

They take the main event — in Google’s case, the search function — and give it by far the most prominent play meaning biggest font and often an accompanying picture.

Newspapers tell you about their other more specialized sections or, in Google’s case, their specialized search functions for news, maps, images, blogs, etc. Google also has no ads on the front page as many newspapers did for years. It is reserved for the most important stuff, which sometimes also includes quirky, as in the special illustrations. The ads and less important content goes elsewhere.

So online newspapers, how about it? Stop the crazy overload. Make the front page for the day’s top stories and give clear links to the more specialized content. After all, the classic front page was such a good idea that Google took it!

One thought on “Thinking about online ‘newspaper’ design

  1. Hear hear! I say pretty much the same thing in my critique of Toronto dailies over here. The link is to the summary. There’s a chart that compares the number of links on each front page. It’s a freakin’ mess.

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