June 28, 2010

MSNBC.com unveils new story page design

CATEGORIES

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UPDATE

This story is about the 2010 redesign of MSNBC.com. For details about the new NBCNews.com launched in 2014, read our report here, our review here and what users think here

UPDATE: MSNBC.com has posted a tour of the new story pages.

MSNBC.com has rolled out some changes to its Web site, including a slightly modified graphical look and a dynamic new layout for story pages.

While the main structure of the homepage remains the same, the “spectrum” of color has veered away from the more vertical bursts of color to broader swashes reminiscent of the NBC peacock logo with a warped grid-like pattern overlayed on top.

This new look seems a bit brighter than the site’s old look and the grid pattern can be a bit distracting, especially when text is placed on top of it. There’s also a feeling that, especially on the homepage, designers simply “swapped out” the old imagery for the new one.

The header of the homepage expands to include top stories and other content, as shown above.

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The biggest changes, however, come from the site’s inside story pages.

In addition to the standard story text, interior pages now include a more multi-faceted approach to storytelling, including a large video player placed near the top of relevant pages, scrolling photo galleries, interactive timelines and links to related content. Users can jump to all of this content quickly using floating speech-bubble link icons on the right side of the page.

Even the story’s text has an interesting spin: on longer stories, to read more, the user must click a “show more text” link to keep reading.

The bottom of each page also includes graphs that show the most popular topics on the site, along with a link to the most recent story on the subject and a trending timeline of its popularity of the past week.

It also appears the social media toolbar added to some MSNBC.com pages is now a permanent fixture.

“Our new story pages are a radical departure from standard links and photos trapped in text. We’ve reimagined what the digital news experience can be and have created an unmatched platform,” said Charlie Tillinghast, president and publisher, MSNBC Digital Network. “With that same energy, we’ve created a premium environment for brands to expand beyond traditional ad formats and engage consumers in a powerful way.”

Overall, the changes are definitely an interesting approach to online storytelling, somewhat reminiscent of CNN.com’s efforts of using tabbed story pages, an approach that was all but abandoned it its most recent redesign. The new layout on MSNBC.com seems a bit disjointed at times and, while it appears efforts were made to create a cleaner look, can also come across as a bit cluttered.

The site’s use of icons to jump to other story components might be a bit confusing for some users, especially those not familiar with more innovative approaches to navigation in Web page design. In addition, the tactic of using HTML bookmarks to jump users to various locations on the page seems a bit outdated.

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COMMENT ON THIS STORY USING FACEBOOK

  • bajeha

    IMO the newest msnbc.com design is not user friendly. The left-hand major news menu (U.S.News, Business, etc.) and fly-out topic headlines that appeared on every page is gone. I can no longer select a story from another topic quickly; nor can I see all headlines without clicking even one. Another big peeve: the “show/hide more text” story feature requires constant clicking; the greatly enlarged font requires much scrolling back to previous content in a long article. Yecchh! I don’t like having to quit my long-time prime news source, but I am until these flaws are fix.

  • http://www.persad.com Marco

    MSNBC has been my home page for some time now because I liked the way I could easily switch topics (using the left navigation bar) and view articles in their entirely without too much clicking around. However with the new design this convenience has been removed. I now have to scroll through a long list of sections with embedded stories and when reading a story I have to click through endlessly. I dislike the new design because it appears like a cluttered mess and forces me to click more than needed just to read a story. I’ve decided to switch to another news source website instead but will miss MSNBC.

  • http://msnbc.msn.com Anonymous

    The fly-out menus were the main reason I chose MSNBC.com above other news sites. The ease-of-use was a powerful feature.

    I don’t understand why the most unique feature of the website was abandoned. I feel lots of others like myself will soon abandon it.

  • redrumm

    Msnbc WAS my favorite news website. Not anymore. I hate all the eye candy. I really liked the way it used to be set up, with all the sections listed along the side of the page. It was easy to read and easy to navigate. Now it’s just a pain. Unfortunately, I will be finding a new site to read my daily news.

  • http://Newscastlestudio HPO

    Was my home page won’t be much longer.
    Best feature WAS the ability to “Surf” the news hitting one story after the other using the listing of categories and news stories listed on the left of each and every page.
    Now every story is a Dead End forcing you to always have to navigate back to the main page to try and find something in the clutter that you would like to read.
    Speaking of “Dead Ends” why must “every” news story end in a forum to discuss the story. A story about a family being stabbed in Pa. somehow turns into a rant about gun control and how the President has sold out America.etc, etc, etc.
    Do we need another soap box for these people who can make these kind of leaps?

  • Kammal

    I’m surprised everyone is complaining about the left nav being removed. The new menu on the top has all the same functionality. Scroll up, roll your mouse over each section link and you’ll see what I mean.

  • rob thomas

    HORRIBLE NEW FORMAT, GO BACK!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I really dislike the huge font. Makes me feel like I’m reading a 1st grade book. Also makes me feel like there is very little content. Requires constant scrolling down to continue reading. What’s wrong with a normal size font?

  • Firecrkr81

    Dislike the new design tremendously! I miss the navigation bar on the left and most of all miss the mouse-over drop down menus. I realize change is hard but come on, this is horrible and I see no difference between MSNBC and the other two (CNN & FOX). CNN is much easier to use now. Please give readers the option to use the classic view. I got up every morning, drank coffee and went to MSNBC for the news.

  • BertFW

    The new layout is horrible. Take the gigantic “ribbon” bar at the bottom which appears when viewing a story and takes up about 20% of the page. Then there are the perplexing icons that float along the right edge the page and reposition themselves without any rhyme or reason. The header where the menu is located is ridiculously huge and confusing as it constantly changes. Also you now get video – whether you want it or not – with some story selections.

  • bubble boy

    More like a radical departure from readability.

  • C. Keylard

    Imagine my surprise when the fantastic MSNBC drop-down menus were replaced by a ‘stylish’ (and annoying) new format. What morons gave birth to this idea? I might as well use CNN et al because the friendly MSNBC site and its fabulous unique format has been discarded. Phooey

  • John

    I hate the new format. It is annoying. What is wrong with clean and simple?

  • Mike

    Terrible format. Very diffucult to manage. Go back to the old format much more user friendly.

  • Anonymous

    The new design is a complete train-wreck. I don’t mind adapting to change, but this is ridiculous. I have a total headache.

  • http://MSNBC.COM NoirNuit

    I really dislike the new layout. MSNBC was the first item in my Home Tabs. Suddenly Home does not feel like Home anymore. I feels like I have been away for awhile. The address is the same, but somebody has not only rearranged the furniture, they have placed in non functional areas! Why is the end table in front of the fireplace? The stories are hard to read and follow…I loathe them..It is a pain to read more than a screenful of the story. Suddenly I find myself losing interest because of the layout. Crazy. I can understand changing, but lets do try to do it for better. Form and Function people.

  • Jasmin

    I liken the new MSNBC layout to that of the Ford Nova. Huge blunder and hopefully short lived. Did they skip the end-user testing?

  • Charlie

    The whole top of the MSNBC.com page is a waste of unwanted real estate. When I first saw it I reported it as a bug, I couldn’t believe it was intentional.

  • Anonymous

    Another attempt at IT justifying their position. Absolutely dreadful. Imagine what these people would do to Craigslist if they had a chance. Not only is the new kindergarten layout just plain awful – it is slow…….

  • Scott

    The new format stinks!

  • Ron

    I truly hate the new design. The two news sites I frequented the most–msnbc and Google news–both decided to change designs within a couple of days of each other it seems, and both are now so infuriating I will not be using them anymore. Why can’t people leave well-enough alone? Will be searching for new sites until I find something simple, easy to navigate,and does not make me click 17 different things to free up screen real estate and complete the article. Blahhh! Horrible.

  • Anonymous

    I hate the new format! I cannot easily find the sections I read everyday. Please go back to an easier format. I just want the news, I don’t want videos or slow to load pictures, and nasty comments at the end of each article. I don’t want my news site to appear like an entertainment site, I just want to read the news.
    I really, really, really hate the comments section at the end of every article, there is so much negativity, name calling and general jerkiness in the comments that I try to avoid reading them because they sour my mood. Put them on another page; those that truly want to participate in that sort of negativity and meanness will find it and happily spew their opinions.
    Ugh! Please bring back the ease of navigation and readability!

  • Disappointed in Denver

    they tried to get rid of the fly out menus before (in 2006) and got the overwhelming response that people want them… so now they do it again? once is careless twice is just plain dumb. Please put it back right now, and fire the artsy overpaid web hackers. Thanks. Have you done it yet?

  • Anonymous

    I truly dislike the new format also. I can’t stand the “show more text” part and the ads in the middle of the articles really annoy me. I’m sorry to say that I have to find my news elsewhere now. Just make it simple please!!

  • Kim

    I was hoping that by now, they would have changed it back. Just visited after giving up on my once favorite news site, and it’s still annoying as hell. Just terrible.

  • bonlin

    MSNBC has been my trusted first source of news every day.
    The new format is terrible. I don’t have time for the “Show
    more text” routine and the effort to find my place again.
    Unless you change it back, I’ll find another homepage.

  • JayRod

    I can’t stand the new format. I’ve used msnbc.com for my news for almost a decade now and I’m considering ditching. I hate it.

  • dc_layercake

    I agree with all of these comments, especially the distaste for the “click for more text” tab, ads in the middle of the stories, the huge font, the waste of space gianormous banner of up-to-the-minute news on the homepage, and loss of fly-out menus on the left. MSNBC, at least give people a chance to choose the old format or the new instead of inflicting endless clicking and cluttered-with-choices pages to our quest for news!

  • Jim

    Even more terrible than the last major redesign. The “click for more text” is insulting. I hate you msnbc.com. My viewing of your site went down 75% after the last redesign… I’m now deleting my bookmark and only using Google News. You do not understand your customers and you do not learn from your mistakes. I used to love this site…. can’t stand it now. Oh and thanks for taking away the fly out menus.. that was the single best thing you had going… all of the people involved in this design should be fired.

  • http://msnbc.com Anonymous

    I hate it too!!! I switched my home page to another website.

  • Misty

    Very much dislike the new format for all the stated reasons in other comments. Hate the “click for more text”. Want the trusted and easy to navigate format back or I’ll move on to other news sites. Really miss the better MSNBC. Why redesign something that was so successful?

  • Ryan

    It’s important to note that people are generally resistant to change when it comes to an established routine. Every news website that undergoes a redesign gets mostly negative responses from their regular users after initial launch, but they tend to subside after they become accustomed to the new layout and aesthetic. A majority of these users claiming they will abandon MSNBC.com will still be reading it a year from now. When it comes down to it, the content is what will hook most people and the redesign doesn’t seem nearly bad enough or drastic enough to send away a significant number. Redesigns tend to be about long term positioning and strategy, not immediate gratification.

  • Ramzilla

    It’s obvious that everyone, beside the RYAN plant at the top, hates that you’ve, once again, tried to fix things that weren’t broken. I’ve never liked the way your articles bias towards the White House train wreck anyway. It’s like you’ve taken a page from the Dems playbook…ignore the people’s opinions. Unfortunately we’re stuck with them…you on the other hand…

  • Anonymous

    I can’t even get the page to fully load.

  • Anonymous

    I hate it the new website. I don’t read it anymore.

  • RealPerson

    I hate it the new website too. I don’t like to read it anymore. It’s aggravating and annoying to use. I used to like the ‘pop-out’ menu design. Everyone else in the world seems to know that you DON’T FIX WHAT AIN’T BROKE!!

  • Dolph

    Please change back to the old format!! I particularly don’t like the new way it displays pictures.

  • justacop22

    this format is too hard to read the staggering load of the page is irratable, and you can’t find the news right,there are too many flash ads,too many ads and nobody can read moveable text without it making you really angry

  • s alexander

    I thought the interview that Medith Veria did with Janet Jackson was OUTSTANDING!! SUBPERD! on the 13 of this month. Very professional.

  • Todd

    The new format especially with the ads makes the screen jerky and very hard to read an article much less find an article.

  • http://msnbc RoyL

    It wasn’t broke, so why change it…I will be changing my Home Page to something more useful and easier to use…

  • Johnzo

    MSNBC was one of my favorite sites, but when they changed their design it got SO ANNOYING to deal with, I stopped reading it. Every few months I check it to see if it’s anything but a ridiculous mess. Every computer technology and website has a lifespan I guess, and this site jumped the shark. What is wrong with a simple easy to use webpage that doesn’t require 3 auxiliary programs? What is wrong with a menu system that made it easy to see where you were going and what you were looking for? This new site is a convoluted mess, I suppose if Microsoft is “fixing” it, it will be barely functional and 20 times more complicated than it needs to be.

  • James Harris

    Whatever differences there are at the moment between the NBC page and CNN’s may be consequential to the designers but mean absolutely nothing to me. The convenient fly out menus were THE thing that made me more likely to go to NBC. Now they’re gone, and I couldn’t care less what they do with the colors or the banners and whatnot, I’ll be just as likely to go to CNN. One’s blue, one’s red. That’s the beginning and the end of it.

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