Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Washington Post

This week the Washington Post unveiled a newly designed Website for the news with a totally revamped daily newspaper presentation, from the previous style more typical of news Websites to one displaying an image of each page where the reader clicks on the article to expand the view within the window and then offer the print version option. And does it work?

It might for some but for me, it sucks. And for several reasons. First I don't want to see an image version of each page and try to discern the articles which can't be read but only clicked for larger view. Granted the photos are better, but the sizing of the overlay for the article doesn't fit some user set browser windows and it bleeds over the left margin rendering it unreadable.

The reader has to resize the window to accommodate the size. Not smart because a lot the right side is taken up with ads. It's a situation where the coding puts the text along the left margin of a large window size withtout a border or scrolling. And they don't offer the traditional style option. It's the new one or nothing, or go to the individual sections for all the news and not just today.

Well, I like the Washington Post, and I buy several print newspapers several days a week and would buy a copy of the Post but it's not available locally. I love sitting down and spreading the paper out and scanning every page and reading article I see. But I don't want this in my browser. The images are too small to read the article even with a large HD cinema monitor.

I realize offering both style is too much work for a Website newspaper. It's inefficient to format everything twice. I would only suggest they reduce the ad space on the right which takes up too much space and enlarge the image so at least reader might be able to read some of the articles without having to see the expanded view and then add a border and better scrolling on the expanded view.

But all of this seems almost too much too late. Granted they need to attract visitors, preferably beyond their regular readers, but at the expense of the regular readers and in a way that seems more glitz than content? The content is there, it's just more work to read it. And no I won't resize my browser window just for them.

So what would I do? Simple, borrow the NY Times model for on-line subscription with the Times Reader service. I subscribe to and like I can download the entire paper to read off-line with easy readability and printability. Now that's innovative for their readers and makes money for the paper. Something the Washington Post could learn.

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