Monday, June 02, 2008

A sign of the Times

Post details:
• Washington Times to stop printing Saturday edition
• Redesign premieres today
• Sunday Times makeover
• Web site overhaul


On its front page, The Washington Times announced Friday (May 30) that it would no longer publish a print version of its Saturday edition. Instead, subscribers will receive the electronic edition for free.

Blame it on poor circulation.

Executive editor John Solomon told the Associated Press that Saturday had the lowest circulation of the week.

But again, this is not surprising. Last summer, Tom Pounds, publisher of the Toledo Free Press told me that the Saturday and Tuesday editions of the daily paper were basically worthless. Think about the last time you actually read a Saturday edition of a paper – or even subscribed to one. One of my family members subscribes to the local paper and receives the Thursday, Friday and Sunday editions. I thought it was odd, but it makes sense.

This is not, however, the only change for the D.C. daily. Beginning today, the Times debuts its redesigned paper, which features blue “News Tabs” as eyebrows.


They are “one of the biggest innovations, and readers told us during focus groups they loved this new navigation tool,” the Times says on its site. “The tabs sit atop most stories and include a one- or two-word description of the topic, person, place or event that is at the heart of the story. At the beginning, these tabs act as a navigational tool to quickly help you to identify the subject of the story, even before you get to the headline.” This is my favorite new feature. They pop off the page and make navigating stories easier.

While today’s (Monday) redesign may not look too significant, another change is coming Sunday. We’ll have to wait for Sunday to see how significant it will be, but here is a preview: “The Washington Times' new Sunday edition will be a unique product in the newspaper industry. A tabloid news-and-features magazine will be wrapped around a traditional broadsheet with the latest news,” the site says.

And that brings me to my final point. The Times launched an incredible new Web site (http://www.washingtontimes.com/) around Friday after testing a prototype beta site which came online last Monday (5/26).
The “News Cube” on the homepage is the best feature, hands down. It allows the Web surfer to three-dimensionally spin the cub to select different top stories.
In general, the new site frees the space of clutter and makes the experience of reading the new enjoyable – from a design perspective especially. Compare the WT site to one of the worst – I think – newspaper sites out there: http://www.kansascity.com/ for the Kansas City Star. There’s no organization and if I were a regular visitor, I would have constant migraines.

Thank goodness newspapers are finally realizing Web sites, a.k.a. online editions of the newspaper, are significantly important. No longer can the media just post the printed story and a photo. But that’s another post topic all together.

That’ll do it for my first post. If you know of any awful newspaper sites, comment and share it so we can all be appalled together.

Links:
Read about all of the design changes here.
Here is a video which shows off the Cube:

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