In March, The New York Times announced that it had been working on a complete redesign of the NYTimes.com. Since this is the newspaper’s first attempt at redesigning their online presence since 2006, the big focus is on creating a user experience that works well across all platforms and correctly displays in different media.
The new NYTimes.com article experience (top) versus the old (bottom).
The first prototype released focuses on the article experience: featuring minimal content on the sidebars and a three-column layout, the full article is now the centerpiece of a clean page. A header image is accompanied by the article title and byline, similar to the way articles are presented in print.
Mobile applications have changed the way users interact with content and their behavior towards scrolling as changed. These modified behaviors have made the jump to the desktop, and we now see websites using scrolling as part of the user experience. The NYTimes.com articles are no longer divided between multiple pages so as to prevent the user from having to scroll through long bodies of text, as used to be the norm.
The new NYTimes.com uses scrolling to show full articles but also to disperse the sidebar content throughout the page so it no longer takes attention away from the main article. As you scroll you also notice the main header change. The first iteration appears when the article loads and it encompasses the way the user can interact with the whole site from within that particular article. The related content disappears as you scroll below the fold and only the main buttons stay, which I think helps keep focus on the content and minimize distractions. The main navigation is at the top left, under what The Verge calls “the now-familiar three-line ‘hamburger’ icon” we see across mobile apps.
Personally, I love the focus that has been given to the content, with the article header across the width of the window and the body copy centered below. The secondary content shines because of the white space that surrounds it as you scroll down the window. Because every element of the sidebar has its own little area; as people interact with the site, sidebar items will become less obtrusive until you need them and know exactly where to find them.
Overall, the prototype released is leaps and bounds better than the current NYTimes.com, and a fine step in the right direction. Back in 2006, it was hard to envision the web would look like this. The conceptual decisions to clean up the interface and use a mobile-first user experience foundation are a reflection of the era we are living in. And the New York Times is finally jumping both feet in.
By: Emilio Servigon, Web Designer