Sometime amidst the coverage of earthquake and tsunami in Japan, The Washington Post rolled out a fresh new design for its homepage, navigation and most of its subsections over the weekend.
The new design is much more modern and clean than the old homepage that looked like something out of the late ’90s. According to a press release from The Post, the new design is “intended to further reader engagement and discussion around Post journalism and showcase more multimedia content.”
Justin Ferrell and Sarah Sampsel of The Washington Post design team published a post at the new Innovations Blog about the goals behind some of the changes, and they summed up the problem with the old design accurately: “It was great for the thing you came for, but if you wanted to look around, it was kind of a mess.” The new Innovations blog is a cool thing in and of itself, perhaps worthy of its own post. Says managing editor Raju Narisetti in a letter about the redesign, the Innovations Blog is “where we hope to share with you our latest endeavors, whether it is involving readers in storytelling or sharing how we are trying to marry Post journalism with new digital tools, such as graphics you can play with or databases that let you dig deeper.” But, back to design.
The most noticeable change for the new design is the organized grouping of elements within article pages. If you look at the screengrab above, the article text flows better throughout the page because it’s not being disrupted by different sized widgets splashed throughout the content.
Perhaps one of the most interesting new pieces of functionality on the site is an “enhanced” commenting system that will essentially allow editors at WaPo curate the best comments and commenters on the site. The best comments will be prominently featured, and although comments will be open to everyone, select commenters (based on prior activity and quality of contributions to the site) will be identified to participate in open forums. This marks one of the most forward-thinking aspects of the redesign, because it takes into account not only aesthetics of the site, but places value on its community and incentives the contribution of high-quality content from readers. (It’s a second big step for The Post recently in seeking user feedback, after last month having launched a community correction form). Read more