News.com gets redesigned
January 23, 2001 6:12 AM   Subscribe

News.com gets redesigned and ordinarily I wouldn't consider this newsworthy, but the incredible overrun of annoyingly large banner & Flash ads is the matter at hand here.
posted by hijinx (32 comments total)

 
This is absurd. I'm guessing that the little c|net "Let's make our banners extra wide" experiment was a resounding hit with advertisers. The front page has an enormously large ad, which I thought was pretty bad. I did notice it went away on a second visit, so apparently it's having fun with cookies.

But check out the internal pages. Enormous Flash ads right in the middle of the text! Right now these trumpet the glorious new features, but one tells us that these ads will lead to a "richer experience." Hooray.

There's nothing richer than looking at billboards while I'm trying to read the news. I can only imagine how annoying the Flash ones will get.
posted by hijinx at 6:15 AM on January 23, 2001


Holy s l o w n e s s batman!

I've been downloading something from "remotead.cnet.com" (hmm, whatever could that be?) for over a minute now (over a T1).

It looks okay, it's a reasonably visually pleasing site, but it's messing up my ability to scroll. Ick.

Considering they got more hits (3 page views :-) from me because of this MeFi link than ever before, I don't feel bad about saying I'll never go back. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:23 AM on January 23, 2001


Ewww... first off, I love the c|net design, it's great, it was always great. This is really bad, from the small tap-type to the fixed-width centered table in which the content is in. Just bad. *sigh* I can't scroll page because the flash file takes up so much space and sys resources. Btw, I notice a lot of people linking stuff to International Herald Tribune, am I the only one that's really amazed at how well the site is done, if only for late browsers and such?
posted by tiaka at 6:23 AM on January 23, 2001


Yep, a lot of them are hanging. Outside of the ads, I actually like the new look.

As an added bonus, the type of ad rotates depending (most likely) on your cookie - so sometimes you'll get a normal banner ad, sometimes a huge one, sometimes a Flash one, and often a broken one. :)
posted by hijinx at 6:24 AM on January 23, 2001


yeah, you can click off banner ads. very slick.
posted by kliuless at 6:25 AM on January 23, 2001


"This is really bad, from the small tap-type to the fixed-width centered table in which the content is in."

What's wrong with fixed-width tables?

I always use them in my web pages, for a simple reason. The same reason why newspaper stories are published in inch-wide columns. If your lines get too long, it's hard to keep track of your place in the text, and thus hard to read. People have a much easier time reading when there's more top-down action than left-right action, in terms of words on a page anyway.
posted by CrayDrygu at 6:30 AM on January 23, 2001


Here's the editor's reasons for the change... and a direct quote:

"Our advertising has changed as well. CNET Networks is introducing advertisements that depart from the traditional banner format to exploit the interactivity of the Internet while improving the readers' experience." He also mentions the redesign is for "fast-loading." Although I'm having no loading problems, it seems like others are...
posted by gramcracker at 6:33 AM on January 23, 2001


No tiaka, you're not alone. I wish more sites worked as intuitively as IHT; every page is easily accessible from every other page, and the clippings feature fits well with the way that I think (scan, note, scan, note, read, read, read).

But even on older browsers (at work I use NS 4.6), IHT is a clean and elegant site.

While we've been on the subject before, there may be folks here who aren't privy to the joy that is IHT.
posted by Avogadro at 6:35 AM on January 23, 2001


News.com? Oh, yeah. I see it now. It's that little bit of text down in the corner. Hard to see it. Although why are they putting news on a site whose primary focus is obviously the "ALL NEW DELL DIMENSION" computer?

And just in case you miss that humongous ad, there is a small little graphic that says "advertisement" with an arrow pointing to it. Thanks, I needed that. I wasn't sure if it was an ad or not until I saw that.
posted by Potsy at 6:36 AM on January 23, 2001



The IHT is the best designed site I have seen for a loooong time.
posted by fullerine at 6:57 AM on January 23, 2001


generally I wouldn't gripe, but when the ad is so large that I have to scroll horizontally to finish reading each headline, I tend to take my browsing elsewhere. I would also argue for non-fixed width tables, so people with small monitors/low resolutions can still see all the data. I'm surprised noone has commented on the use of tabs...
posted by atreyu at 7:00 AM on January 23, 2001


When an ad becomes so huge that it can't be differentiated from the actual content of the site except via a little "advertisement" label, then something is very wrong.
posted by dnash at 7:04 AM on January 23, 2001


Of course, from a commerce point of view, you actually take notice of the ad when their placed in the content as opposed to a top of page banner - that we've all learned to ignore by now...
posted by owillis at 7:14 AM on January 23, 2001


With all apologies to Matt, MetaFilter if it was owned by c|net.
posted by hijinx at 7:16 AM on January 23, 2001


I always found the arrangement a bit weird : three postage stamp graphics on a row broken up by short full-margin text paragraphs broken up by yet three more postage stamp graphics, etc. -- something I found irksome.

The new design is a bit cleaner. The promo stuff sucks and is a distraction not because it's Flash but because it's in the middle of the page. I wonder if the print people are going to pick up on this.
posted by leo at 7:34 AM on January 23, 2001


Well, I've had no problems with News.com's new layout as far as speed goes. If some of the ads are actually Flash, that's going to cause my home computer some heartburn, I'm afraid. Good thing I don't read News.com from home.

As for IHT, it's an interesting site, but I don't really like the design that much. Customization is a good thing, though.

But now, check out ZDNet News. Notice anything familiar? Is ZDNet owned by CNet? Did I miss that? I just can't remember who owns what anymore...
posted by daveadams at 7:52 AM on January 23, 2001


OTOH, it looks quite nice with WebWasher turned on. The big graphic ad at the top just goes away (even the "advertisement" label is gone). And the child pages don't even have placeholders where the ads used to be.
posted by smackfu at 7:57 AM on January 23, 2001


CNet bought ZDNet in July.
posted by leo at 8:00 AM on January 23, 2001


I've always thought news.com was a waste of a good URL. Do people really read it?
posted by rodii at 8:00 AM on January 23, 2001


I don't really care that much about the ads, they tested them in their Rumor column a while back and I guess my incredibly short attention span makes it easy for me ignore the ads no matter how big they are.

But what makes me exasperated is that the Flash scroll bars in the CNet house ad explaining the changes are backwards! The top button on the scroll bar moves you down the page, and vice versa. That, surely, is Evil.
posted by anildash at 8:30 AM on January 23, 2001


I was dumbfounded to see how those scroll buttons were (not) designed.
posted by sudama at 10:21 AM on January 23, 2001


I'm not seeing any of the weird Flash things that everyone else is, but the rest of the design is an improvement over the last design, especially when you look at the informational aspect. Less information crammed onto the front page, relevent links at hand when you need them, easier to read, information is grouped more clearly, etc. Nice work by the c|net design team. It will be interesting to see if the design holds up after several repeat visits.
posted by jkottke at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2001


I'd like IHT much better if they didn't assume everyone was a Windows user and specify font sizes that are too small to be legible on the Mac without magnification.
posted by kindall at 11:37 AM on January 23, 2001


I used to read news.com daily. It used to be more interesting until it became dominated by merger-this-and-that and endless discussions of "enterprise" strategies.
posted by dhartung at 1:32 PM on January 23, 2001


I don't see any of the flash items or large banners mentioned here either. As far as the design goes, a very nice improvement.

Much easier to read with a nice sleek design.

However, I do not care for the new ZDNet design all that much.
posted by physics at 1:57 PM on January 23, 2001


kindall: if your mac can run IE 5, your font problems will disappear.
posted by sudama at 2:35 PM on January 23, 2001


I'll be honest, I don't mind the ads that much. They're stupid, and huge, but I read 3 articles on the site this morning and they did not bother me at all. I don't think sites have much choice either, banner ads are useless at this point, and noone is going to be able to make any money off advertising without branching out. For sites like CNET which make their money off ads, ads like this aren't a good or bad choice, they're pretty much the only choice.
posted by beefula at 2:51 PM on January 23, 2001


I think the ad on the main page is gone. Must've gotten enough complaints about it? There's banners at the top and bottom now, however.
posted by gramcracker at 2:57 PM on January 23, 2001


I do run IE5. Fonts are still too small on IHT's front page unless I manually increase IE's magnification.
posted by kindall at 4:44 PM on January 23, 2001


At least they didn't go for the HUGE frame on Wired's site.
posted by geir at 4:47 PM on January 23, 2001


Kindall: are you using 96dpi resolution in IE's preferences? That solved all font problems for me.
posted by rodii at 7:07 AM on January 24, 2001


No, I don't use 96dpi resolution, because it makes the fonts on 90% of sites way too fricken big. Metafilter is like 18 point at 96dpi.

This can all be avoided by using px (pixels) instead of pt (points) to specify font sizes in style sheets, but some people just don't bother.
posted by kindall at 11:39 AM on January 24, 2001


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