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With in-article chat bots, BBC is experimenting with new ways to introduce readers to complex topics
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May 5, 2015, 10:31 a.m.
LINK: www.washingtonpost.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   May 5, 2015

Last year, The Washington Post debuted a new app for the Kindle Fire with an intriguingly distinct user interface. Jeff Bezos was quite involved in its development, “Project Rainbow” — not surprising, I suppose, considering that it was the most meaningful crossover yet between his day job (owning Amazon) and his side gig (owning The Washington Post).

Now, the visual metaphors of that Kindle Fire app are crossing over to the web:

“Based on the success of our new tablet app, we decided to experiment with different ways to carry that experience to the Web,” said Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post. “We think it could be an excellent way to both provide users of the app a seamless experience as they navigate to the web, and to continue expanding our national and global audience, particularly among Millennials, whose readership of The Post is growing steadily.”

Starting today, a subset of mobile readers who click on a shared link will be taken to a new version of The Post’s site (Washingtonpost.com/rweb), which will evolve over the coming months, based on their feedback.

washington-post-kindle-fire-web

Reviews on Twitter have been mixed:

It is awkward when viewed on desktop. But while it’s available on the open web, it’s really targeted at mobile web only. And, I have to think, tablets, because it also looks pretty goofy on a phone:

washington-post-kindle-fire-web-iphone

There are some appealing ideas in the design, which tries to recapture some of the leafing-through-the-paper feel of print. With every story getting big visual presentation, and scrolling story-by-story as the default navigation, you do get a sense of the sweep of a newspaper. But, like the spiritually similar Today’s Paper from The New York Times, I have a hard time imagining it’ll ever be anything but a niche point of entry to Post content.

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