User experience is a huge part of our design philosophy and speed is a big part of that experience. We are in the process of taking our site to a more basic foundation to prepare for future designs and enhancements. We noticed there was simply a lot going on that distracted a reader from the task they came to our site to do, which is read. Also, we want our site to load faster, especially on mobile. By removing a lot of unnecessary items from the article page, we’ve decreased load times significantly and cut the amount of data required to read our articles.
What has the feedback been so far?
This “refresh” as we’re calling it is an iterative process, so we put a lot of emphasis on what readers say about their experience. The feedback has been highly positive and we’ve also received a lot of critical feedback that is extremely useful as we’re making these improvements.
Is this new look part of a larger site-wide overhaul?
We are planning to update a majority of the site in preparation for a much larger redesign planned for later this year. We wanted to start with the article experience first because we had the most to gain there and that is where most of our readers are engaging with The Washington Post online. We are still sticking with the same advertisements and production workflow which keeps us in the same underlying design layout of the site. That was the plan from the beginning so we could focus on very specific design decisions rather than trying to reinvent the whole site. We are working with the team at WPNYC as they prepare to do the complete rethink of our site.
There’s a lot of white space and it’s very clean- is this the future of news design?
I think good design is the future of news design. We were really trying to strip the article pages down to the absolute base layer which makes it very clean and adds a lot of white space. It is an iterative design so we will reexamine that as we decide to add old features back in or create new ones all together. The harmony of the entire article page is the main thing we want to keep in balance so we don’t end up with the same distractions we set out to remove.