In the article, Newspaper Website Design: Trends and Examples, Steven Snell explains what elements are included in the design of a news website and how many websites use the same elements but in very different layouts. Elements included are color scheme, header and sidebar banners, top navigation, tabbed content areas and grid based layouts. Each element has an important role in the final layout if used appropriately. Social media integrations and RSS feeds are also included, but are seen more in news blogs.
The New York Times website is a great example of integrating all of the elements to effectively manage the home page and create a very organizational structure. Using a grid based layout, there is navigation on the left side as well tabbed content on the top. The structure used, makes both navigations easy to use and presents appealing aesthetic layout. Using a mainly blue and black color scheme, content is again well organized.
A different use of color scheme is seen by the Tennessean.com, which uses clashing colors to differentiate itself. Green is used for the header and sidebar while dark orange for links and headlines. Although it is innovative, the traditional blue fits better for links with a news website to limit confusion. The colors are interesting but would be served better as just accent colors.
The Washington Post’s website uses a very traditional three column, top navigation layout. It has some small banners ads, but doesn’t overwhelm the home page with a massive amount of content. The structure organizes it into easy to navigate columns. The use of blue for links and headers, black for text and red for some accent headers helps define and configure the design.
While the Chicago Tribune uses a traditional color scheme of blue, black and red, their issues lay within ad placement and overall layout. The header is smaller than other websites and the placement and abundance of ads detracts from the goal of a news website. Being able to manage the delicate balance between appeasing advertisers and not overwhelming the public can be very difficult.
A news website’s homepage should appeal to all stakeholders such as the public, advertisers, and peers. This means including enough information and material condensed into an appealing layout. The header should be prominent enough to attract attention, like MSNC’s website header and its use of darker colors. Tabbed navigation and top or side navigation should work together and not be overwhelming or confusing. Some use only one but when combined, the New York Times efficiently uses both. Using a grid based layout gives a tight, organizational look. With an ever forward moving society, social media integration is a must to stay connected. Along with RSS feeds, this is an easy thing to include on a homepage without adding much clutter.