The Economist redesigns its web site.
September 26, 2000 11:37 AM   Subscribe

The Economist redesigns its web site.
It's in the fine-tuning phase and doesn't launch until next week, but it's linked off the current Economist home page. (more inside)
posted by werty (17 comments total)
Those of you familiar with the current site will notice that it's a complete overhaul. Out with the old, as they say.

As I'm responsible for the new design, your comments and feedback here (or to me direct) are welcome and appreciated.
posted by werty at 11:39 AM on September 26, 2000

Have you considered three rather than four columns? In particular, I find the two columns of headlines a bit hard to read...

Otherwise, I'm rather more worried about the content than the design ;)
posted by johnb at 11:55 AM on September 26, 2000

I like it. I think it's a little odd to have the horizontal elements so much more prominent than the vertical dividers, but that's maybe just me & my color balance.

Of course, I'd be a whole lot more favorable if you'd include a lengthy exhortation to join the Murder Generation and submit to my Supreme Authority . . . nudge, nudge.
posted by aramaic at 12:02 PM on September 26, 2000

It looks strange to see it as "". It'd be like the New York Times marketing itself as ""

And from the introduction: Articles about Britain now appear in the World/Europe section

Hmm. And looking at the World section, it appears as if North America will take precedence in the new layout. Oh well.

So has management of the content delivery side shifted over from London to NYC? And has it finally gone 100% inhouse? (Which would be odd, seeing as I know someone in London who said he was working on back-end stuff for the relaunch...)
posted by holgate at 12:26 PM on September 26, 2000

Actually, the offices are split between New York and London; most of our development team is in the UK, and editorial is in both locations.

Editorial decided to emphasize regions over countries for a more global approach, so Britain and the U.S. are lapsed into their respective continents.

The new name is a deliberate thing, as has new iniatives separate from the Economist newspaper (it's called a newspaper) planned for the future, so it got its own brand.
posted by werty at 12:42 PM on September 26, 2000

Does this count as pointing to your own stuff? :)
posted by daveadams at 1:06 PM on September 26, 2000

I really hated the old frame style, because it always said the "document contained no data" and forced me to click ok a few times before it would load. Really irritating.

Otherwise, I'm rather more worried about the content than the design; Tough to beat a paper as respected in its field over the last 150 years as any. . . but it is pro-free trade (for the last 150 years, for some perspective), so what can you expect. :)
posted by norm at 1:32 PM on September 26, 2000

Gotcha. And having seen the different editions of the Economist in the UK and US, I can appreciate the internationalist remit for the site. (And looking at the "world" section, I think the regional grouping is pretty as well as smart. Top work.)
posted by holgate at 1:40 PM on September 26, 2000

The Economist is as fine a publication as there ever was. I wish I was more interested in global issues; being narrow minded, I tend to concentrate solely on the North American pages . . .

Anyhow, I can't figure out which link leads to the redesign (I'm a newcomer to the web version). I rather like the clean layout of the charcoal colored frameset - it's readable and pleasing to the eye.

The white page with four columns on the other hand, is really hard to follow. Further, the big blocks of color burn my eyeballs!!

If that's your design werty, please don't take offense - it's not bad, it just isn't in line with my preferences.

By the way, I discovered the Economist mobile edition yesteday. While not nearly as dense as the magazine, it makes for great Palm reading.

posted by aladfar at 2:48 PM on September 26, 2000

four columns is definitely a bit too much. my suggestion would be to hold off the four columns until later in the page. make the first ~800-1000px (from where the main content starts) or so three columns with the latest headlines from each section in the middle column. then break it up into 4 columns if you must further down with the remaining headlines for each section. just my thoughts.

the design otherwise looks very good.
posted by physics at 4:28 PM on September 26, 2000

daveadams you're right. This does count as pointing to your own stuff. Funny how no one seemed to notice because of the interest in the site. Why is it right this time? I would love to receive feedback on my web site designs...
posted by Brilliantcrank at 6:06 PM on September 26, 2000

I think linking to it is acceptableWhile it does have the 'link slutist' feel to it, he is linking to the economist, not The economist is a major news website and IMHO makes the link allowable.Also, if werty had not mentioned to anyone that he was involved in the design I bet most people would have been none the wiser.I like the design though, especially using the 800 pixels, but making the article viewable and the page looking nice for those using 640. However, I agree with physics on combining the two middle columns as one for the main articles and for then seperating into two columns later down in the page.
posted by jay at 9:08 PM on September 26, 2000

Fuck all that. I want to see websites under development, and if the person working on it posts the link all the better — I know whose responsible and can ask questions. As such:

Hey, werty, you say “you’re responsible” for beta.economist (I read your site and was looking for forward to seeing this redesign) but how large is the creative staff involved with this sucker? Is it just you, or you and an art director, developers, loody-do. How much say and control did the editors (are there web editors over there?), publishers, biz dev folks have and exert? From my work with magazines and content sites I know it can be fantastically terrible. Editors just telling web folks do to what they’re told which creates frustration and ill-will.

One small critique, and more if you’re interested: The bright red links on white made my eyes jump. I didn’t read one headline on the page, I read a few links and left.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 12:27 AM on September 27, 2000

Indeed, at I am just one part of a whole, channeling the needs of editorial, advertising, and development into the visual displays seen on the new site. Creating it was certainly a collaborative effort. (I'd give credit where it's due, but this is a magazine without a masthead, after all.)

I posted this link not to be self-congratulatory but because I work for a web site that I know is well-read in this community. I thought I'd share the redesign here before it got widespread exposure elsewhere, and I anticipated and received excellent feedback as a result of my posting. Thank you all for your observations, btw.

Any blatant self-promotional hype from me is clearly marked as such. ;)
posted by werty at 6:33 AM on September 27, 2000

I like design too, but I don't make the rules. It should either be the same for everyone or not at all. Matt, what's the official take here?
posted by Brilliantcrank at 1:43 PM on September 27, 2000

There's actually a discussion on MetaTalk about this. It's a little bit old, but it discusses an "" area, where we can talk about things we had a hand in and are proud of, or want to point people too, etc.
posted by cCranium at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2000

Just as long as the login system finally works I'll be happy. I've been a subscriber for ages (to the print version) and although I love it I've never been able to use the web version - my login is always rejected. I contacted support three or four times to fix it and it never works.

But anyhow. I really like front-ending as much content as possible - as you've done here - instead of just hiding it behind section titles and stuff. But in this case it's a problem cause there's just so much stuff. but the solution reached isn't bad at all, I guess. To have that much text up front, though it might be overkill in some ways, also has its marketing function as well, further supporting the choice made.

One thing - the links are distinguished when you mouse over them, but (on my machine) not at all otherwise. This means you have to use a lot of "click here" text, and I (the user) have to make a lot of assumptions about what might and might not be a link. I doubt that's particularly productive in encouraging me to stick around.
posted by mikel at 4:34 PM on September 27, 2000

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