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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Gawker mixes up the visuals

The Gawker Media blogs redesigned yesterday, prompting explanatory posts all around the family of sites. From a cynical point of view, the redesign of each site’s front page to include shorter excerpts of each post seems clearly aimed at generating more pageviews (and thus, more ad impressions). In most cases, the key link the post is about is only accessible by clicking “More »” to another page.

But I want to point out something admirable about the Gawker sites: They’ve been willing to do more formal experimentation with how blog posts are displayed than just about anyone else.

A quick scroll down the Lifehacker front page, for instance, will show some posts that are just a small headline; some with a small headline and a one-sentence tease; some with a large headline and a tease; and some with either a small or large headline and a full-width image. Sports blog Deadspin is also experimenting with using different background colors to highlight certain content.

None of those options is groundbreaking. But one of the bigger design problems most blogs face is their visual sameness — the unbroken line of headline, post, headline, post all the way through the content. So bravo to Gawker for breaking it up.

                                   
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Ken Doctor    
When people talk about explanatory journalism, the focus is on new players like Vox and FiveThirtyEight, or on giants like the Times and the Post. But can connecting the dots trickle down to the local level?