ABC News Redesign: A Case Study In What Not To Do
One of my favorite news websites is was ABCNews.com. They recently redesigned their website and destroyed most of what I liked about it. Their old design was similar to the New York Times. They had an easy to read home page that made all of the headlines visible. I could quickly scroll down the page and view all of the top stories. The only interactive component on the website was an image gallery that was related to the top five stories they were promoting. It acted as a slideshow and allowed the user to pause and click through the different pictures and headlines.
The headline slideshow wasn’t the best tool for users that wanted to see the most important stories at a glance, but it did seem to give balance to a sea of sections and headlines. Unfortunately, the decision makers at ABC’s interactive department decided that the future of the Internet should involve a tedious interface that would make their slideshow component look like static text.
Spending just thirty seconds with their new design makes it obvious that they designed it to punish the user. The new design caters to corporate brainwashed individuals that still believe that page scrolling is bad. In their attempt to keep the vertical height of the content stunted, they successfully hid 70% of the content and made the page look embarrassingly bare of any real content.
Are a series of tabs, marquees and iframe-like scrollbars the future of the Internet? I certainly hope not. What ABC News failed to see is that the typical Internet user has a hit-and-run mentality. They usually seek specific information and desire the quickest way to scan, process and digest that information. The new ABC News design assumes that the user has time on their hands. It now takes at least two to four times the amount of time to click, drag and watch all of the different content they’re trying to present to the user. I don’t have the time or the patience to wade through that, and I don’t think many other users will either.