Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Here's The News, Help Yourself

The Danish edition of Computerworld Online (http://www.computerworld.dk) has thrown out most of the basic journalistic tools on its new front page:Articles are no longer organized by priority, only by time stamp.Priority has been given to tagging all articles. The idea is to focus on building related content around articles.All headlines are the same size, no matter how important the story. The entire site navigation has been hidden under a link.Some ads are the same font size and type as news articles, but have been marked with a grayish "advertisement" label.All users now can blog on the site.

Editor Mikael Lindholm argues that the new site is user-centric, whereas the old site was based on newspaper design. The site design looks more like the average blog than anything else.

It's true that some elements of early Web design (including site navigation) seem to be used very little by users. Maybe we should look for better ways to build navigation.

However, I personally believe that online journalists have plenty to learn from newspaper design. We still tell all our stories in the same "design," no matter what type of story it is. Why? Simply because the average content management system (CMS) is as comfortable as a coffin when it comes to bringing a story to life. To me, the new Computerworld site design looks almost like giving up before learning to use basic tools of online communication.

Strangely, only two months ago Mikael Lindholm quoted Microsoft's anthropologist Anne Kirah: "Print media is capable of things that the online can't do. The text, the layout, the colors, the layout, and the context makes it easier to remember and understand things when we see it on paper." (I hope I have quoted her correctly, since that's a translation of a translation).

So, why not learn a little from paper design instead of throwing it all out?

source: poynter

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