Digital news is broken. Actually, news itself is broken.
Almost all news organizations have abandoned reporting in
favor of editorial; have cultivated reader opinion in
place of responsibility; and have traded ethical standards
for misdirection and whatever consensus defines
And this is before you even lay eyes on what passes for
news design on a monitor or device screen these days.
In digital media—websites in particular—news outlets
seldom if ever treat content with any sort of dignity
and most news sites are wedded to a broken profit model
that compels them to present a nearly unusable mishmash
of pink noise…which they call content.
In an effort to disguise and mitigate the fact that they
have little idea how to publish digital content
properly—often sneakily called "differentiation"—some
news outlets release apps for digital devices. These
apps typically (but not always) do a better job of
presenting content and facilitating navigation, but
they’re a band aid on a festering abdominal wound.
Digital media is simply digital media; if you do it
right you publish once and it works anywhere. If you’re
using an app to deliver content, you’re doing it wrong.
Its something thats very easy to say - hell I wish it were true. It is not. Devices, apps, platforms, whatever. They have strengths and weaknesses. You can not have one magic solution for all. This is a crappy comparison but its a bit like saying you have one single car for every type of terrain - same car for soccer-mom and deer-hunter alike! Sweet!
Instead of working with a handful of redundant,
mitigating formats (websites, mobile sites, apps, etc...)
for content delivery to popular devices, news
organizations should simply deliver it correctly in
...oh, and design. The employment of content design
would be quite refreshing, actually.
There is definitely a crap load of work to do to fully redesign a web site that was last done in 2005 - but it does happen. A couple of URLs come to mind which are not illustrated in his piece:
Opinion (redesigned last year)
Books / Best Sellers List
T Magazine (CHECK THIS ONE OUT - you seem to have missed it Andy!)
Business Day Sectionfront
Opinionator Blog (my favorite design)
Slide Show (Great Homes)
So whats next... well too much actually. I do not have the time nor the patience to dig at all of Andys points. Im sure not all of them are bad, but there is enough there to make me wonder whats wrong with this guy. Again, he is a professional. I am sure he has had critics of his work, and he knows that there was an inner process where a lot of those points were brought up and shown not to hold water. He is now doing the same thing.
So I'll leave it on one final point. Mobile Sites. Its an example of what happens when you don't know that the Times is aware of his point and we discussed it and there was a damn good reason we made the decision that we made.
What am I talking about? He shows the iPhone with the full NYT homepage and has the caption "Um, are you frisking kidding me?". In other words why not a mobile site.
Well, very simple. The iPhone is capable of rendering and interacting with the full page. It was the first browser to do so - it don't require a lite version. You could tap, zoom, pinch, drag and get the full depth of the page. Other browsers - like those for Nokia, RIM etc couldn't handle that.
This was talked over to death. There were compelling arguments about going down this road - or not. In the end, the decision was made to NOT redirect those advanced browsers to the mobile site. You can still go to m.nyt.com if you like, we just wont force you too.
but it should not require anything more than a media
query fetching different CSS and perhaps some additional
scripting so as to simply restyle the content experience
CSS media queries does not solve the problem. It is never that easy and shame on your for saying so. You are a professional. You should know better. Bad Andy. Bad. No biscuit for you.
Man, this makes me bitter. RANT OFF.
Thank you so much. Seriously. It's extremely rare for it to ever be enjoyable to use a "mobile" site on an iPhone. At least for me.
I feel like sending you a cake.
I wish there were some way to disguise the iPhone as a PC, so that no website automatically redirects me to any mobile version ever.
EDIT: For example, I just got an email saying I've been tagged in a photo on Facebook. So I go to facebook.com on my iPhone, and they've managed to completely break scrolling in their mobile version. I literally cannot scroll down on any page. 100% certain, and 100% aggravating --- and as far as I can tell, no way for me to get to the full site.
Send a cake. I'm in Seattle now but you could send a cake to the designers on the 7th floor.
NYTimes.com Design Group
c/o Angela Rutherford
The New York Times
620 8th Ave (7th floor)
New York, NY 10018
Add a brief note on any design/ux tweaks you'd like :)
Cake = (!Lie) ? Motivation : Lie
There is, just don't use Mobile Safari. Atomic Web Browser supports user agent spoofing for example.
That fact that Andy is a design profesional makes my blood boil. Andy should know that is easy to look in from the outside, make grand statements without knowing the truth and reality of why things end up the way they do.
If this were some kid in design school I'd brush it off - but Andy co-own a design firm in TX and wrote a book called "Design Professionalism". WTF!
:) sorry couldn't resist.
No. I have not read the book. I feel the point I am making is valid without having read it. The fact is clear that this person is a design profesional even without the book.
This is something that every designer (and developer) at every media organization has to struggle with. And it speaks to what you said about someone looking in from the outside. It's very easy to create something like Andy's lovely design (and I'm sure every designer at every media organization has created or has wanted to create something similar), but it's another thing to design around all these ad sizes and push back on ad sales to have more room for creativity.
Again, if it works for him, great. It just makes it harder for me personally to be objective about him and his work.
However, knowing his political positions would immediately put you in either a positive or negative (depending on your position) frame of mind and would stop you from having a fair and balanced opinion.
Nice reply. I agree that this guy seems to have it in for The New York Times. He says, "CNN has a nice format halfway down the page". How is that different from the INSIDE NYTIMES.COM section of the Home Page?
His case for clean design rests on his assumption that the Times can charge enough for content to pay the expenses of the newsroom. He says nothing to back up that assumption. I love his confidence, and I wish shared it!
I know it's easier to throw the same page no matter what screen size it is.
First you say that there is no single solution:
"You can not have one magic solution for all."
"Well, very simple. The iPhone is capable of rendering and interacting with the full page. It was the first browser to do so - it don't require a lite version. You could tap, zoom, pinch, drag and get the full depth of the page."
You just defend your ugly design by "it's not doable" and by "we know better"
Well, very simple. The iPhone is capable of rendering and interacting with the full page. It was the first browser to do so - it don't require a lite version. You could tap, zoom, pinch, drag and get the full depth of the page. Other browsers - like those for Nokia, RIM etc couldn't handle that."
That's your main reason for not having a mobile site?
In terms of usability, zooming in on a mobile device to click on a website designed for a desktop browser is a nightmare. Just because it can be done, doesn't mean that's the way it should be. It results in a horrible experience.
Poor excuse, poor design.
That's your main reason for not having a mobile site
I said: because the iPhone has a very very advanced browser that is more than capable of handling our Homepage we do not REDIRECT them to the Mobile site automatically. You can still go there if you like.
I am also adding: We did find that a larger chunk of users preferred the regular Homepage on their iPhones and did NOT want to go to the Mobile version.
In terms of usability, zooming in to click on a website designed
for a desktop browser is a nightmare. Just because it can be done,
doesn't mean that's the way it should be. It results in a horrible
I keep saying "we" as in the Times and I. I don't work there any more but the strongest force in the universes is still the force of habit. Apologies.
I'm sure you'd agree, design isn't a democracy. Clearly, your users are wrong.
Wait, what? Why is this a problem? Who else should the design be focused on but the user of the site?
If the users are wrong, who is right?
My point still stands. Just because Apple give you the choice to pinch and zoom doesn't mean that's the way it should be.
The fact you already have a mobile site but choose not to put it to its full use baffles me even further.
To re-iterate: OUR READERS WANTED THE HOMEPAGE AND NOT THE MOBILE SITE ON THEIR IPHONES.
I'm curious as to who you think is supposed to have the final say on "the way it should be".