Today the Dallas Morning News launched a redesigned website that was looong overdue. The previous iteration was a tawdry mess that felt like it was being funded by monthly bake sales. It would gum up your desktop browser if you left a tab open too long. It was horrible. The new version, running on a CMS the paper bought from the Washington Post, is cleaner, faster, and easier to navigate. It appears that adults are now running the show. I clicked on five or six stories and left all the tabs open in Chrome. Excelsior! My computer continued to operate.
As with any huge project like this, there are bugs to be smashed. Dagger apostrophes (the ones that don’t curl) still litter the site. Details like that are important when your design relies more on black type than pictures and a Playskool palette of colors. Also, I searched for “Wilonsky” and was served a bunch of Al Dia articles in Spanish. And the paper’s logo probably ought to get a static bar at the top that stays put when you scroll down, thereby reminding readers where they are.
Small stuff. They’ll get it worked out. Again, this is a huge improvement, and they are to be congratulated.
Finally, we at D Magazine expect the imminent delivery of an edible arrangement from DMN brass to thank us for incubating the talent that saved their digital hides. Am I exaggerating when I say that this redesign wouldn’t have been possible without former D staffers Christina Rees and Jessica Chen? Not much.
Now tagging in Matt Goodman:
I am D Magazine’s web editor, which means I spend a lot of time staring at websites. Like Tim, I am happy I can have six or seven News tabs open and not worry about my browser crashing. (I just counted all my tabs and I have 43 open as I type, which I believe makes me a lunatic.) But there are three things that also stick out to me that deserve kudos: one, the photos finally get the respect they deserve.
Previously, they served as weird, bloated banners upon which headline text was placed. If you wanted to see those pretty pictures elsewhere, the other option was a palm-sized box midway down the page. Not the best. Also, I don’t recall an easy place to see the photographer’s name. That would bum me out if I was as good at taking photos as the News’ photography staff is. Now they get a nice big space atop the story with a clear cutline and credit.
The other moves worth commending, I feel, are the decisions to absorb GuideLive and SportsDay under the dallasnews.com URL. (Or kill them. Whichever phrase you prefer.) It’s a better move for SEO, but you don’t care about that. Those sites were awful for user experience. They had all the problems of the old News site, but were louder and more difficult to navigate. Now, it looks like GuideLive has doubled down on events, and SportsDay actually looks like the reputable sports section it is.
Anyway. That’s all for me. I’m with Tim: congratulations, DMN.