Star redesign: I don’t hate it

After inexplicably hyping it for weeks, the Toronto Star finally unveiled its website redesign last week. I took one look at it and was unimpressed, but figured I’d return for a closer look.

Toronto Star's thestar.com

Toronto Star's thestar.com

Colour me more impressed.

I’m still not crazy about the visual design, which is filled with rounded corners, blue-grey gradients and just about every other Web 2.0 cliché in the books, but some of the functionality is worth noting.

One is the topic pages. News organizations have to get used to the fact that the Internet provides them with a different way to present information. Background doesn’t have to be repeated in every newspaper article to re-educate the reader. Instead, you can simply link to a previous article in a series, or better yet to a summary of the topic so far (kind of like what you’d see on a Wikipedia page). Many topics have short introductions followed by a list of articles on that topic. It’s simple, but very useful. The best part is the “hot topics” banner at the top of the page, which allows quick links to the big issues of the day.

Another is the timeline view, which translates as “everything published on this website, in reverse chronological order.” If you don’t know what you want to read, go here and just read whatever is new. There are other views like the “visual news” view, which presents stories as a series of pictures, but that’s only useful if all stories lend themselves to good pictures. Many don’t and are illustrated with boring file art instead, lessening the usefulness of this page.

Text in these boxes don't have enough ...

Text in these boxes don't have enough ...

More from teehan+lax, Torontoist and the Star itself.

6 thoughts on “Star redesign: I don’t hate it

  1. Horonymous

    I’ve been a regular visitor tot thestar.com since I first had regular access to the internet in 1997. Multiple times thestar.com has redesigned and the benefits have been evident to me days after the new look was introduced.
    These recent design changes are not coming to me a quickly as previous ones. I’m clicking and scrolling more than previous changes.

    The one instant plus is the timeline providing me with the latest stories.

    No choice but to learn how to make the new layout work for me.

    Reply
    1. junior

      You can hit the space bar on your computer to scroll down a page. Much more efficient than grabbing the scroll bar with the mouse or using the down arrow key. An old navigation tip that precedes the browser, but which few people know about.

      Reply
  2. Bill Lee

    I miss the listing of all the day’s story in one long text listing, with links, bylines and 7 days of such long text link.l

    Using Blind Lynx, it was a far far better navigation and one got used to Star style, such as it was in the writing.

    I’d like them and the Gazoo to adopt these ‘styles’ for the busy and the blind.
    http://www.smh.com.au/text/ or better, but wordier for the voice reader (and those who move their lips when reading)
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/index.html

    Bill/Guillaume

    Reply

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