blog-stained wretches Redesign Launched

Just a week before bids are due to buy the the entire magazine company itself, the online arm of Newsweek has unleashed its long-awaited redesign. An editor key to the redesign efforts told us a couple of weeks ago that the remodeling would be “relatable to proven and successful web-news outlets,” so we were kind of expecting something like the Daily Beast’s website or that of Newsweek’s oft-cited aspired rival, the Economist. But in fact, it sort of looks like … a blog. And that’s on purpose. From a letter from Newsweek digital editor Mark Miller, who says the magazine asked readers what they wanted:

What we heard back was what many of us at NEWSWEEK also feel, which is that we’re overwhelmed with information. So two words guided us as we reconceived simplicity and clarity. Our intention is to help you quickly make sense of the key events happening throughout the world. The new is built for people who seek context and clarity in an information landscape cluttered with headlines and knee-jerk reactions. When you come to our site, we won’t greet you with a dizzying array of a million places to click.

There is a conventional wisdom in media-website design that white space is desirable — it offers a sense of space and order, and prevents visitors from feeling confused or overwhelmed. The new certainly has a lot of white (or black, or red) space. There’s one lead story with an image, a new content stream that looks like a blog, and a narrow “Spectrum” column, where editors will round up opinion from around the web on the key issues of the day. And that’s it. (If you use Adblocker software, the amount of information-free space is especially striking — see above.) It’s a little bit of a relief to look at an uncluttered news site, to be sure. But the fact of the matter is, by now, news readers are used to a bit of clutter. Just witness, the web’s most popular news-outlet site. It’s simple but full of options, which is what the Internet is all about: being able to choose what you want to look at. The line between offering simplicity and not offering enough tantalizing, clickable choices is very, very fine, and the new seems to be operating very close to it. (For what it’s worth, Miller assures readers more features will be added soon.)

Welcome to the New [Newsweek] Redesign Launched