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Posts Tagged ‘design’

How to Embrace Digital Design Like NYT

This morning, The New York Times announced a radical redesign of its website — a slimmed-down and minimalistic experience that evokes the Times stunning and oft-replicated digital experience “Snow Fall.” The design marries a lot of what users have raved about the Times‘ iPad experience, while also offering “premium” space for ads.

“As we continue to develop our rich content offerings across video, slideshows, data visualization and interactive graphics, these adjustments to NYTimes.com provide the structure our newsroom needs to deliver a best-in-class digital news report,” says excutive Jill Abramson in the company’s blog.

As the Times continues to aggressively keep up with the evolution of digital design, there’s plenty of takeaways to apply to any website. Keep in mind these three tips, and you can ensure your website is ahead of the curve.

1. Web Design Is Constantly Evolving

The Times has certainly come a long way from the design it had ten years ago, but there’s no denying that it’s missing the edge of some modern publications, such as the responsive design of Mashable or the new Kinja layout of Gawker publications Deadspin and Jalopnik. In order to keep up with the times, the Times has to adapt.

Here are just a few features the Times is including in its beta design: Read more

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Social Media’s A1 Problem (+ An Idea)

Even if you think they’re dying, newspapers have something your Twitter stream doesn’t: hierarchy of what’s important to read.

Story “weight” is intuitive on paper. There’s what’s above-the-fold, and on top of that, there’s clear positioning of pieces, with one more prominent than another. There’s differences in headline size, perhaps subheads. In some cases, there’s teasers to other stories to read once you’re inside the paper. When you get to the actual stories themselves, often times there’s another indicator: length in inches. Design works to show your eyes where to go, and what is editorially important to look over (perhaps over cereal, or a cup of coffee).

Home pages replicate this idea in part. Article pages are getting better at this, or at least people are making a case for it. Apps for tablets often do this as digitally close to a newspaper as possible. But social media doesn’t really replicate the “story weight” capability of a paper at all.

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Six Ideas for Journalists’ New Twitter Header Image

Twitter announced yesterday it will allow users to further personalize their Twitter page with a header photo behind their userpic and bio.

The move is reminiscent of Facebook’s cover photo, but played a bit differently since it includes your info and short bio all centered over top of it. The header photos will apparently follow you and be visible even on mobile phones or tablets. Honestly, it’s not really something most users will look at, since many people read Twitter through readers or their phone or their own stream, but it’s another way to brand yourself to people following your organization or looking at your profile for the first time, so why not take advantage of it?

Here are a few quick examples to inspire you of how journalists and news organizations are already using the space:

@WashingtonPost

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Emotional Design: How Recognizing Humanity of Readers Can Help Journalists Online

One of my favorite blogs to follow is a design blog that I’ve mentioned before, Smashing Magazine. It’s great because it’s functional (I can get around it), reliable (I know what I’m getting when I go there) and useful (I learn stuff). It’s also pretty. Moreover, I want to note that it’s pleasurable, too.

“Pleasurable” may sound like an odd descriptor for a website, but don’t judge me yet– take a look at it. And then take a look at its article about this very subject, “the personality layer.”

Emotion is one of the handiest online tools. Simon Schmid outlines why beautifully.

As such, if you click that link, you’ve got a double-whammy of a page to learn from: Smashing Magazine is home to good content like this piece on emotional design, and it’s an example of some emotional design itself. You may not notice the subtle emotional cues as you browse, but that’s also the point—even the smallest play to emotion helps keep readers engaged. Read more

‘Text is a UI’: How Journalists Can Work Usability into Online Words

Text style and placement took center stage a few weeks back while dissecting how news orgs tweet breaking news. Where should you put “Breaking”? Should it be “BREAKING”? Do you even need it at all?

A new, related mantra I’m considering for all online media endeavors, “Text is a UI.”

I found it while perusing the Alertbox of Jakob Nielsen, a web design guru whose work I’ve linked to in the past (and probably will again in the future).

“It’s a common mistake to think that only full-fledged graphical user interfaces count as interaction design and deserve usability attention,” Nielsen wrote in a post about using iterative design to move around and change words, resulting in a good, clickable, retweetable tweet.

It may sound deep and philosophical, but “Text is a UI” makes simple sense. Letters are symbols with arbitrary meaning. Words, too. And when they are paired next to and among other symbols and images online, it makes sense that we should consider not just what the words say, but also how the pairing, order, color, placement and even capitalization of our text can impact how users interact with online content. Words symbolize and signify, but they signal, too. They direct us. They’re cues for a user.

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