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Archive for August 4th, 2007

Ohio.com redesign, initial thoughts

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

I haven’t had time to properly look through it, and I’m not quite sure when it officially launched as I haven’t been keeping up with my back-home reading, but The Beacon Journal got a make-over.

Thank you, Journalism gods.

It still retains some of the same feeling and colors it had before, but it’s much more clean and accessible. I wish I had a screen shot of the “before” to compare, but basically anyone who has ever seen the blah Knight-Ridder template that they all seemed to utilize knows what I’m talking about. Don’t remember: The Philadelphia Inquirer is still using it, although theirs seems a bit more organized than Ohio.com did before.

A few things I like:

  • I’m a fan of the drop-down menu. I think this is probably the best way to get in a lot of links without cluttering your page or making me click through a few pages for what I want.

  • I also appreciate that the content rules and the ads largely play second fiddle. (I’ve been growing increasingly annoyed by newspaper Web site ads of recent. Look for a diatribe about IndyStar.com soon.)
  • The photo gallery template is simple, links back to the story and tells me how many photos I’m in for. That largely satisfies my preferances. Though, it would be nice to quickly see the whole group at once.
  • Love the Most Read Stories box. I think every paper should do this, and hate that my paper doesn’t. We get an e-mail every day telling us the stories with the top hits, but we don’t pull them out online, even though I think readers would be as interested as we are.


  • I like the quick take blog links on the left side of every page. It’s a clean list even if it’s a bit long. I don’t like that I can’t see what’s been updated recently.

  • I like that it seems they’ve finally resigned themselves to allowing comments on every story. But I happen to like how we do it at the J&C where you see the most recent comments on the page. I don’t think you should have to jump through another hoop to see or join the conversation. Also, as with most topix comments, the “Read all XX comments” isn’t obvious and blends into the box above. But they do get some bonus points for having in their abbreviated terms “Be polite.
  • The “Inside Ohio.com” box at the bottom of the pages is a good idea, but it comes off looking like a cheap knock off of the NYTimes menu.

Things I’m not digging so much:

  • Why is the multimedia page so boring?! This should be the most exciting stuff. Where are the pictures? Where’s the fun? (Ditto on the local news page.)

  • In fact, where the heck are the photos? I can’t find any on any stories I clicked on except the dominant one online.
  • Speaking of that story and photos: Why is it sandwiched between two ads?! I completely overlooked it at first because I figured it was just an ad. I remember learning not to even let photos and ad stacks bump when I took news design. I know this isn’t as true of the Web, but surely stacking it in the middle isn’t an effective display.
  • In that same story, they say “County Council is expected to act on the 40-page document Monday. (A copy of the plan is available at http://www.co. summit.oh.us/executive/pdfs/ DOD/Lakemore%20 Development%20Area%20(7-07).pdf.)” Two thoughts on this one: First, make it a link! Second, get a copy of the plan and pull it out in an impact box for easy dissection and so I know it’s there.

I haven’t had time to really look below the surface or get a feel for daily use and how I like it yet, but right now I’m going to say it’s a huge improvement. Good job, guys.

For more on the redesign, read the FAQ.