Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Salon redesign:

Don't like it. Several complaints:
  • No dates for any headlines on the front page.
  • Totally uninterested in clicking the "Most Read" tab. What, are we all alike in our interests? Same for Critics' Picks.
  • Not rigorously chronological, but instead grouped into sections: News & Politics, Entertainment, Books, and Life that have to be clicked on to be sure you haven't missed anything (see BONUS WTF below). With a chronological presentation you can quickly discern what's been added since your last visit. That's impossible now.
  • Instead of a tall (virtual) page, where elements are presented vertically, the eye now has to scan left-and-right over a rectangular canvas. Within limits (e.g. three columns) that's okay. But at Salon, it's like examining every square on a chessboard to see what's available.
  • In the columnists' and most topical sections there is the irritating "read more" feature. This is apparently because the headlines are so inadequate that the reader must scan a couple of paragraphs to know what the article is about, and then click to get the rest of it.
  • Stuff repeatedly sprinkled about the front page: Get this, there are four links to the Joan Walsh section (link in Top Features strip, Blogs, Inside News & Politics, Links at the bottom) and three links to her latest essay (Front page feature, Blogs, Most Popular/Most Read), for a total of seven links. That shows the frothy, undisciplined, nature of the design.
  • This applies to both old and new format: Why, oh why, is any text presented as light gray against a white background? That's how the date is rendered (and author names). Sharp black on white should be the standard.
BONUS WTF: A Patrick Smith "Ask the Pilot" column from September 25 - one month old - is on the front page! It's one of the five entries under the Most Recent tab of Tech & Business. Most Recent? I just checked the Tech & Business page and there are several article more recent than that one. That's a failure of programming. How did this mistake not get caught in Q/A testing>

While the old design might have benefited from some improvements, this new format is not it. There's a lot more clicking to open new tabs to see what you might (or might not) want to read. I'd be interested to see if there were speed tests comparing the new layout with the old one.

One wasted opportunity was with the tabs. Instead of Most Recent and Most Read, they should have scotched the Most Read and replaced it with tabs for the INSIDE set (authors and/or topical subdivisions). That would have been effective, since clicking on a tab merely changes the content within the frame. Right now the INSIDE links result in a full-sized page that you're likely to open in new tab, which can be a time waster.

Looks as if Salon went to the same people who redesigned the UI for Microsoft's Office. Change for change's sake.


I totally agree. I read it on my phone, so I hope they leave the mobile version as is: neat and chronological.

By Blogger jmonster, at 10/24/2009 12:24 PM  

"Change for change's sake."

Christ, that's all over the place. Doesn't it happen with automobile models?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/27/2009 8:42 AM  

Post a Comment