{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

USA Today unveiled new designs for its newspaper, website and mobile apps over the weekend to coincide with its 30th birthday.

According to a statement by Larry Kramer, the company's president and publisher, the idea is to reinvigorate “the value of print media while introducing new digital products.”

The digital platforms have been designed to include bigger images and more graphic-driven stories, as well as live video coverage and instant analysis and commentary.

Both the old version and the revamped version of the website are available online at the moment, so I took a look at the new iteration to see whether this truly is the future of online journalism...

Navigation

The new website design mimics an iPad app in that when you navigate between different topics and stories the pages slide left and right in the same way that you would swipe a mobile app. Also, individual stories are displayed in large icons rather than as text links.

Here's the old homepage for comparison: 

Furthermore, when you select a story it expands into the front of the screen so the homepage stays visible, giving the feeling that the site is one immersive experience.

Users can then click the arrows on the left and right of the screen to slide to the next story rather than having to navigate back to the previous screen. Also, for habitual users of the browser's back button, this still navigates to the previous page. 

Having the homepage in the background also means that when you click the cross in the top right you are still browsing the USA Today site rather than exiting it altogether, which should help increase time on site.

There's also a neat 'cover view' option which allows you to browse through articles with more emphasis on images, something which works well on tablets. 

This may be teething problems with the new design, but many if the links within articles weren't working properly, meaning this error message was quite common: 

Video section

One of the stated aims of the revamp is to place a greater emphasis on video and images, but at the moment this section could do with a bit more work.

It appears that USA today has tried to cram as much content as possible onto the screen, but the result is that the icons are look quite small and dull.

Also, the text it uses to label the video clips blurs into the background so you have to make an effort to stop and read each one - nothing jumps out at you.

It could be that this section is just intended to be a backup for video content so the clips continue to be visible after the stories associated with them have fallen off the homepage.

But even so, based on the eye-catching design of the news pages they could have done something to make this section more enjoyable to use.

Ads

Unlike most news sites, you don't see too many ads as you browse through USA Today, but there are some very intrusive ad formats, which take over the whole screen and obscure much of the navigation. 

News sites need to strike a balance between finding the ad income they need to survive, and not annoying users with intrusive ad formats. In this case, I'd rather see more banner ads than this kind of format. 

Conclusion

Following the massive surge in popularity for mobile and iPad apps in recent years it makes sense for newspapers to use a similar design for their websites, however USA Today is the first one to take the plunge and deserves credit for taking such a bold step. 

Though the BBC used a sliding navigation tool on its homepage when it redesigned its site last year it didn’t apply the same look to the rest of the site.

But despite the revolutionary design, the navigation on USA Today's site actually feels quite natural as I am used to navigating mobile apps in the same way.

I also think it will encourage users to spend more time browsing USA Today’s content thanks to the way stories open without navigating away from the homepage.

Whether the sleek new look will be enough to rescue flagging online advertising revenues is doubtful though. It will surely take more than a revamped website to get marketers to suddenly start investing heavily in USA Today’s banner ads.

The real problem that news sites face is that the way people consume news is changing faster than they can come up with ways to monetise the content, and mobile appears to be the future rather than desktop.

Still, it makes sense for USA Today to introduce a more consistent look and feel across all its digital products, and it’s definitely better to try something new and innovative than to stick to what you know and slowly watch your company go out of business.

David Moth

Published 19 September, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1680 more posts from this author

Comments (10)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

wes herzik, founder at ikonicmedia.com

Are my eyes deceiving me? A Print publication embraces technology and Responsive design. Nicely done.

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Brunner

I don't know whether it's just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering problems with your blog.
It looks like some of the written text in your posts are running off the screen.
Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this
is happening to them as well? This could be a issue
with my web browser because I've had this happen before. Kudos

almost 4 years ago

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

This is a really good move by USA Today and I would imagine we will now start to see more sites take on this approach.

It's an obvious move that no one else has thought about doing. Fair play to them.

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

russ guthrie

The new front page doesn't even look like a front page. In addition the print appears smaller and lighter and harder to read. I hate it!
Thanks!!

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Me Me, Blank at None

The functionality is good, but the page remains quite cluttered. I think they could have done much better on that front.

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Mark Ruppert

I dont like it at all, I guess it just shows my age.

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Darcy Ravenscroft

Have you considered the people who are not into ipads? I love the designs but it doesn't look too original sorry.

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Chandra Hinzman

I don't mind with the design in fact I love it it's because you guys are trying something new, but same with darcy it doesn't look too original.

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Joy Edwards

Information about the Navigation, Ads, Video section parts. The navigation looks good in that is displayed in this nice blog. I have checked the website USA today and design is quite good and simple there to make searches easy for people.

over 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Roslyn Hayton

I have no problem with the new looks since the navigating on the site is easier. Keep up the good work guys!

over 3 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.