If you change it, they will come

An article on Poynter’s E-media tidbits confirmed a suspicion I’ve always had about Web design.

“Every area is going to change frequently, even several times a day,” says Robinson. “That was a key point of fan feedback — that for two and three days at a time, the site looked basically the same, even if we did put in new stuff. People saw that sameness and were on their way to something else.”

I’ve always felt that newspaper’s sites were constrained by a.) their backend softare and b.) tight deadlines and a content staff that may not feel comfortable changing a Web pages design.

This comment would seem to indicate that it’s not just enough for a Web site to publish new content, but to actually change some of it’s visuals so that folks know its changed.

The system that most newspapers use for updating their sites involves pushing a new headline, blurb and maybe a photo to the front page.

This would be the print equivalent of running every story in the same position as it was the day before, and just putting new headlines and new photos on the page.

I think news sites should try and use editorial judgement in their design. The New York Times does this to some extent when there is a big story — they run the Web equivalent of a strip headline and deck, and then the page continues as usual.

In my free time (ha ha), I’m going to try and do a mockup of what a site might be able to do.

Of course this concept would be easier on non-technical staffs if the backend software could easily change to one of several different layouts…

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
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