Nearly 25 years ago, Gannett changed the newspaper landscape with the launch of USA Today. Like it or shudder, that bold stroke showed a willingness to break the mold (even if it meant creating a new one) and it paid off. A revamp of USAToday.com scheduled to start this Saturday isn’t quite as dramatic — or as likely to make a huge impact on the rest of the news industry — but it shows the same willingness to challenge the norm: in addition to the much-needed redesign, the paper is expanding an already strong interest in social media by adding a number of tools and options. Many of those features come through an agreement with Austin-based Pluck.
The redesign not only smooths out navigation issues (the site has struck me for years as the organizational antithesis of the print edition), it incorporates and highlights a variety of ways to engage readers. Kinsey Wilson, executive editor of USA Today, describes it as “expanding the mission of the site at the broadest level.” The idea isn’t to mimic the paper but to “convey some of the same sensibility.”
Some of the changes:
— Everything is done in Ajax.
— design-wise, a lot more white space signaling a shift away from dense pages stuffed with information.
— providing a different view of the news with RSS feeds featured on the front. But, says Wilson, they won’t be using the
term RSS because they want to make it easier. And the editors are selecting the featured feeds; readers will not be able to add their own. Again, he says, “we