Now, I have spent a bit of time talking about blogs, but I said in my introductory post that in this particular blog, I would also be talking about issues relating to design and publishing, so I thought that I may as well start with the basics.
Although many of the design principles and features of print media are able to be transferred into an online format, it is important to remember that they are two very different mediums. The presentation of online news must balance traditional design principles with the new capabilities of the online format. Although, interestingly enough, most online producers focus on the content of a news site, rather than with its layout.
The first important thing to do is make sure that your readers know where to find what they are looking for. With a printed newspaper, people tend to know the rough order of stories, and where to find what they are looking for, whether it is world news, sports or the comics. But if they don’t know where something is, they can just check the contents page.
With an online medium, there is no contents page, so the page needs to be presented in such a way that makes sure that the reader knows instinctively where they need to go to access what they are looking for by having a clear presentation.
I personally really like the layout of the Australian‘s website (www.theaustralian.com.au). Not only do I find it aesthetically pleasing, but I like the way it doesn’t give too much focus to images and that it’s ‘above the fold’ links include not just major stories, but breaking news and opinion pieces.
However, my favourite aspect would be the contents listing in the banner across the top of the page. Not only does this make it really easy for anyone to find what they are looking for quickly, but it is organised so well that even when you click on a heading, there are sub-headings within each category.
So, what news sites do you find most user-friendly? Do you prefer more content-based sites, or image and video based ones?