Monday, 18 December 2006

Website redesigns can be fraught. But two of the broadsheets I visit daily have bitten the bullet. The Australian's new look is cool. They've redone the links on the left-hand side of the page to make them more visible and distinctive.

Interestingly, they've given the 'Strewth!' column front-page exposure. In the printed version, this column is buried in the back of the news section on the daily features page, but is always worth pausing for. It contains light, humourous snapshots of events that occurred on the previous day, and has boldface names that make it easy to skim.

They've also diminished the 'Breaking News' section. It was twice as tall before. But if the stories are arriving fast, and it's really only for the purposes of scanning the latest events, a smaller window for this portion is no drawback. Most people, I wager, don't often click on items that appear here. I know I don't. But it's nice to see what's happening when it happens.

The fonts are new. They've chosen serif fonts this time, instead of the blockier sans-serif font they had before. This design feature gives the page a cleaner, more agile flavour.

The other paper that has changed its look is, of course, The New Zealand Herald, which is owned by the great rival of News Corp. (which owns The Australian), Fairfax Limited.

Their new look is also welcome. Brighter, more accessible, cleaner. The only problem is that now, to get to the books page, it takes two clicks. Before, to get to 'Arts & Literature' was just one click. From there, you were able to filter out the non-books headlines by clicking on the 'Books' link.

But I don't mind really. Now, to get to the books page, you must click on 'Entertainment' and then 'Books'. No great hardship.

Once you get there, however, you're in for a treat. They display more headlines and you can see what day each item was first posted on (which is an improvement on the previous layout). You can also read a few lines of content without clicking, which is also good.

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