Meanwhile some designer suggests that the New York Times trash their entire business and turn it into an ugly looking blog (with padding!) and it gets 500 upvotes.
At least the Pump/WSGI proposal was genuine interest and enthusiasm and not condescending.
This is a total repeat of the American Airlines redesign thread , which everybody should be familiar with. Some things are the way they are for good reason, and the reasons are usually very good when you are referring to a successful product or a billion-dollar company.
A site full of hackers is good at picking apart a naive technical idea... not so much a naive design idea.
The bigger irony is if you had these discussions on news.ydesigninator.com, the designers would have no opinion at all on the code, because they would realize that they know nothing. But with visual arts, it's easy for us programmers to bike-shed and act like we know something.
I think the best designers get this "real world" aspect of news. Hopefully same goes for you programmers.
They didn't force that change, you can just turn it off.
Looking just now I have the old style tab, if I click it the sidebar pops open, there's a "cog" for settings in the bottom right corner. IIRC you have to set yourself as "unavailable" to all and then use the cog to select "hide sidebar". Try that.
In the last week or two, Facebook changed their messaging UI so that you cannot get a list of all your buddies that are online to chat (it guesses who you would care to see) among other mostly cosmetic changes. AFAIK there is no way to use the chat UI that was available a month ago now (or see if a particular person is online unless you specifically type in their name).
>What WSGI should have been.
That sentiment goes through nearly the entire page. And it's the same problem. But yes, it attracts more critique here because (I'd imagine) the majority of vocal ones here are less designery and more programmery.
The big problem that myself and many others have with Andy is that he is a professional. He is known in web standards and design circles. He builds web sites.
The big point here: He has been on the other side of the design process (I presume) explaining to people why things were built the way they were.
In Andy's "redux" he seems to forget this. Blatantly. Thats not to say he isn't right on some obvious things (the Times left-navigation on the Homepage) but for almost everything else he was pretty damn disparaging and ignorant of the process that churns out the end result. To a shocking level IMHO.
What Khoi is saying here is a very level-headed and polite response to Andys redesign. (BTW Andy himself says it wasn't so much a redesign, more like "I examined pressing issues for digital news").
If it had been a graduate who did the "redux" I would have smiled and said, "Come back in a few years working in the real world and you'll see things differently". So I was a little shocked that this came from someone like Andy.
Background Info: Khoi joined the Times in late 2005 or so. At that time the redesign for the NYT was well underway so he was not responsible for the look-and-feel that emerged. For the most part he has been trying to improve on the legacy he inherited - the Sectionfront and Article layouts, the Navigation bars on the Homepage - not Khoi's idea and he fought to change that (take a look at the Opinion section for example http://www.nytimes.com/opinion for one single sample of his stewardship).
Removing big ads from the homepage is nice for a pitch (actually to be honest, it is a very common strategy to emotionally lure people into a pretty but imperfect design to rework later) but would never get approved internally. You'd have to have a pretty convincing argument that losing a huge source of revenue would be counterbalanced by a large increase in viewership, and I don't think that's an argument he could win (in this specific instance).
The top nav of the NYTimes is a political minefield ("HOME PAGE, TODAY'S PAPER, VIDEO, MOST POPULAR, TIMES TOPICS". Part of the problem is that links to some of these pages exist nowhere else (or relatively few other obvious parts). Its a big big web site and over time some organization was lost as new pages crept in.
BUT... Do you know what happens if you remove it? Nothing. No meaningful impact on traffic. Yet there it still ives.
The Left Navigation bar on the Homepage is a recognized problem internally. However you need to weight:
- Same argument as above, some links to these pages don't really exist anywhere else (Skimmer, Times Wire, Multimedia, Times Machine). You need to solve that problem first.
- Various departments would make a stink if they did not have the glorious link from the Homepage.
- If you remove it, you're probably talking about a solution that would take up more horizontal space and push the content down even further.
Those are the two immediate ones that I recall. I don't see this being addressed specifically anytime soon - it was hard enough to clear space for the Facebook module.
"The New York Times presents a rather typical example of terribly-designed news"
"popularity has nothing to do with news"
"today's paper: irrelevant"
"the Times’ search results page is an excellent example of usable news design"
In fact, his tone of decency and respect, despite the the off-the-cuff pronouncements made by Andy Rutledge is exactly the voice I've come to expect from Khoi. Which is awesome.
Also, this reminds me a lot of the Delta Airlines redesign fiasco brought on by another designer (http://www.dustincurtis.com/dear_american_airlines.html). It's really easy to sit back and critique the obvious flaws in design from within the ivory tower of photoshop, where you can arbitrarily remove advertisements and ignore the loads of user studies that entire teams have spent significant portions of their careers.
This is the kind of stuff that gives designers the MO of being 'decorators' who don't 'respect constraints' - operational or technical. As a designer myself, it's sad to see this behavior showing up again and again.
All the "terrible/unusable design" criticisms are quite valid today, I think. Maybe they weren't 5 years ago when the site was designed, but there is simply too much information to process now.
The industry should do it's self a favor, hand Andy a muzzle and continue on to bigger and better things. He's scum.
This guy sounds like the redesigner really hurt his feelings.
Why not share the design constraints that the redesigner failed to consider? Wouldn't that be more productive than complaining about link baiting and criticism?
Vinh's response was measured and appropriate and professional, much more so than Rutledge's original post. I see absolutely no reason why he should waste his time engaging in explanations and dialogue with someone doing a drive-by hit piece on his work.
I'm sure the creators of readability have an awesome regression test suite. It would make no sense for them to publish it.
> Since news is accessed only via subscription, most of the ads can be eliminated from the pages. Story pages could still have one or two tastefully-presented ads, but preservation of the content is what will keep readers happy, engaged, and willing to continue paying their subscriptions…just like in olden times.
Since news is accessed only via subscription, most of the ads can be eliminated from the pages.
But just come out and say "we had to cover the site in ads and couldn't do a better design" if that's the case.
Redesigns, solicited or not, are very helpful to me. I don't care what internal politics the original product designer is grappling with. It's refreshing to see what outside observers come up with, politics and other restrictions be damned.
I'd hate to work for someone who was so critical of critical thought.
The redesign on it's own is fine but the screed before that is the issue.
I don't recall Khoi making a statement about the redesign itself, just the tone of the explanation of it. I got the impression that the choices made had valid reasoning behind them that may not be obvious to someone outside of the times. It had nothing to do with internal politics, but the realities of running a very large site. Design is great. Practical design is better.
That's really true but nonetheless, its helpful to see another design point of view. If the nytimes disagreed with the tone that was taken then state that but don't dismiss the whole article.
He could've adressed the design concerns and also mention his shpeal about the tone that was taken.
Rutledge did indeed rant generally in his opening paragraphs a bunch of stuff about poor standards, lack of ethics etc in the industry with little to back it up, then segues to the Times as his example of the design problems (see what he did there?).
Exactly my thoughts. The original article was harsh but not disrespectful - it's a critique of the end result, not anyone's capabilities, and it has lots of reason.
I'm starting to think he's a bit of a modern design muckraker, pursuing pageviews by stirring the pot. I suspect that Khoi picked up on it, which is why he smartly did not pass on a link and feed the flames.
It basically comes down to: if you think something is bad, try to understand why it was designed that way I'm the first place. You may not know all of the data or edge cases.
It's a constant battle between the ad department and the content makers, and then between the content makers themselves.
I realize this might be like coming to a software discussion and not knowing who Steve Jobs is. For all I know, maybe Vinh invented and patented three-column layouts and everyone's laughing at my ignorance.
(Yes, this is commonplace; his little footer blurb will probably do nothing to stop somebody who wants to, but I can't blame him for it.)
Regarding the footer disclaimer, it's probably because his newspaper-like blog/site design is also sold as a Word Press theme. 
I wouldn't call him the Steve Jobs of his industry, but he has been a big proponent for (what I consider clean design with) grids. 
Fresh pairs of eyes are helpful, but there are definitely more constructive ways to offer solutions than operating under the default assumption that everybody else are idiots.
He should have been honest and come out and said that. Instead, he chose to be a jerk.
Guess what Khoi, we do this for fun, so no it's not a waste of time. You clearly do not do your job well, nor do you enjoy it.
Khoi Vinh is being a poor sport here. Criticism is an important part of the design world. In school we're taught to use criticism as another resource and learn from it. The design team at the New York Times could have learned a lot from this 'unsolicited' exercise. Instead, they chose to be offended.
That article you linked to contains a lot of unneeded and useless criticism of the Times that was only peripherally related to any actual design aspects of the site.
When he goes off about ads, he's no longer talking about site redesign and is instead advocating that they change their business model.
He's certainly free to throw his $0.02 in along with the rest of the peanut gallery about how he thinks the newspaper industry should run their business - but it tarnishes what was supposed to be an interesting look at a web site redesign.
Perhaps more importantly, if I were current or former staff of NYT, I would have a hard time taking even the valid criticism found in Rutledge's post to heart, given that he implies exceptionally bad faith on the part of the Times staff. We all can cite a truly terrible online news design that would benefit from some of Rutledge's suggestions, but the focus on NYT seems like a oblique strategy to accuse the Times of something almost like yellow journalism, what with of the suggestion that opinion is shamefully placed in context with reportage, that popular news is pandering, etc.
"I will say this, though: unsolicited redesigns are terrific and fun and useful, and I hope designers never stop doing them. But as they do so, I also hope they remember it helps no one — least of all the author of the redesign — to assume the worst about the original source and the people who work hard to maintain and improve it, even though those efforts may seem imperfect from the outside. If you have good ideas and the talent to execute them and argue for them, the world will still sit up and pay attention even if you take care in your language and show respect to those who don’t see things quite the way you do."