What should online news look like?We have looked at Jakob Nielsen's UseIt.com writings about useability and online information. Here's a taste of what long-time magazine and newspaper designer Roger Black thinks news enthusiasts want in a Web site: speed, convenience and visual information.
In 1999, USAToday summarized Black's Web design tips with this list:
- Don't be afraid to edit. Too much content can be jarring.
- Give users information, not just ads and slogans.
- Use big pictures as often as possible.
- Use one strong image, not several small ones.
- Use as much white, black and red as possible.
He sees one-paragraph news summaries as a wave of the future, even for printed newspapers. For more of his ideas, see his book, Web Pages That Work (if you can find it) or the more recent Don't Make Me Think, by his colleague Steve Krug, whose Web site is called sensible.com. (The site includes a sample chapter with great illustrations of eye-tracking on Web pages.)
Some of Black's advice fits with Nielsen's usability advice, but some of it (big pictures!) doesn't.
Mario Garcia (www.mariogarcia.com/english/news/index.html) is another newspaper designer who has crossed over to Web design. The Poynter Institute and researchers at Stanford are working on a follow-up of Garcia's eye-tracking newspaper studies to see how Web page design influences news-reading.
Part of Bob Stepno's web resources at Emerson College. Last updated Nov.3, 2002.