This summer, independent news and entertainment source National Public Radio has been heavily promoting their re-designed website. Here’s a recent screenshot of the homepage. A user normally doesn’t get to see the entire page like this, but it is a very useful way to assess how the elements of the page are interacting, what is working, and what is not working and needs further development.
This new design is completely up to date. The large, horizontal navigation is solid and dominates the header with blocks that guide you as to what kind of content you can visit on their site. Elements in the navigation have an active state that features a little fold, as when a person folds the page of a book to keep their place marked. Nice touch. Even though NPR is radio based, and this is (of course) a website, it lends the otherwise quiet design sort of an analog flair.
The homepage is divided into three columns, and each column is nicely segmented into little bits of information that are easily scanned with the eye, and easy to digest since there is a lot of content here on the homepage. They also use color to differentiate different types of content such as News, Arts & Life, and Music.
There is plenty to see as well, for those who look more and read less. Colorful thumbnails introduce us to audio articles, photo galleries, blog entries, and music videos. And taking advantage of today’s technology, there are boxes with popular content such as most viewed, most recommended, and most commented.
There are plenty of icon based links to audio players to listen to radio articles, podcasts, widgets, RSS feeds, videos, and plenty more to keep up with the heaviest of users who go through content a mile a minute.
Overall this is an example of design serving as a crystal goblet that holds and features its contents. The content then calls attention to itself based on its own qualities. There is no additional information in the communication channel. If the content is appealing to the audience, it is appealing because of its own qualities. When design is approached this way, authorship is maintained to a minimum if there is any at all by the designer.
A big change for the better. I am now visiting NPR.org more frequently.