Morph: Where’s the innovation in site design?

Good post on where’s the innovation in site design?, including this:

As my friend Dale Peskin tells it, most people think of newspapers as being like Walter Matthau — the perfect image of a grumpy old man. Why, then, would anyone want to A) design their news website to look like a newspaper; and B) use the same format and even the exact same content as the newspaper? (Maybe nytimes.com can get away with it because its brand is so powerful.)

But what will the next generation of news sites look like? I’m not sure. While I like a few elements of each of the above designs, I don’t know of any newspaper site design that’s good. And that’s a problem because our site, spokesmanreview.com, is way overdue for a redesign, and it would be a whole lot easier to steal someone else’s design than to come up with our own.

Our web staff has argued at length this week over what role the “repurposed print content” should play in our redesign. One argument is that the “shovelware” is yesterday’s news and because it’s the only part of our site that requires a subscripton, it should be segregated into a “premium” sidebar spot. Another argument is that the print content is the best journalism that’s being provided by our news staff, so it should have the most prominent display. A third argument is that, in the future, what now is “repurposed print content” actually will appear first on the web, and we need to design for a true, 24/7 news and information site.

Difficult, isn’t it? I would agree with the assertion that there aren’t enough well-designed newspaper sites, and would add that newspaper websites haven’t done enough to exploit the fluid information architecture of the Web – we’re still stuck in a language of sites and sections, desperately trying to find something more flexible but terrified of throwing out the baby with the bathwater – in this case, the strong association users have with newspaper sections like sport, business, arts and comment.

Do you know of any newspaper sites that have cracked this? Answers on a postcard – or at least in a comment.

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