First look at the new dailytarheel.com

We got our first look at what the new site is looking like today. Here’s a mockup of the homepage that’s just a draft.  We’re going to be looking at it more in the coming days and giving our developer feedback early next week, but we wanted to get input from others as well of the look and feel.

My first thoughts:

  • I like that its clean and simple. It isn’t cluttered, and I  like the fonts a lot (Arial for the navigation and Lucida Bright for the rest).
  • Ultimately, I’d like the option of being able to substitute video or a slideshow in place of the main story.
  • I think there ought to be something to highlight video/slideshows/other multimedia content prominently on the homepage.
  • Right now, the right side column has articles by desk. We’d like the flexibility to put other content in those spaces too (a tag cloud, Twitter udpates, whatever)

Let me know your thoughts. This is just the first draft.


22 Responses to “First look at the new dailytarheel.com”

  1. April 29, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Nicely done! Clean and simple.

    Are you going to have a spot on the home page for user-generated content?

    Don’t forget to add a “ShareThis” button throughout the site.

    • April 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm

      @Hal I think there definitely should be a place for user-generated content prominently on the homepage. We’ve hired a community manager who will be helping us cultivate that community of readers online, and the best way to grow reader participation is to make it prominent. And the ShareThis button was one of the first things we thought of to add when we saw what the designers had come up with. Definitely with you on that one! Thanks so much!

    • 3 Devin Rooney
      May 1, 2009 at 9:29 pm

      I don’t like Arial as a font. And i agree with you on everything like wanting to promo videos and being able to use the rail on the right for something other than a reiteration of each desk’s stories, in fact i think perhaps that could be the place to promo video.

  2. 4 Cameron Parker
    April 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    I love the design!

    I think helvetica is a better font than arial and is more widely used (and no, they are not identical!). We should use helvetica if we can.

    I think we could get rid of the reader poll. Those things are just a waste of space. Online polls are bunk anyway.

    What would be really cool for the purposes of gauging reader interest would be a “like” or “vote-up” button on each article.

  3. April 29, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    While I think this is a nice design, I also think it’s within the norms of what most of the other newspaper websites look like. I think you should do something bold and radical, and you can use this as a backup. It would be sweet to see several ideas for what might be bold and radical, and then discuss those. Just my two cents.

  4. April 29, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Any reason why you’re singling out multimedia as a separate section? I know it may seem like semantics, but it’s not the novelty it once was and if you’re truly using the best means to tell the story, you shouldn’t have to break out multimedia from news/sports/entertainment, it should be included within those sections, IMO. And I agree with the comment about needing to be able to substitute video/slideshow/etc in the main story slot.

    • April 29, 2009 at 11:05 pm

      @Andrew ODell: Being able to substitute non-stories in the main slot is definitely a requirement. Multimedia is not going to be treated like a separate entity, and those pieces will be integrated into the topic pages we’re creating. But we still do have a sizable readership coming specifically for videos/slideshows, so we want them to be easily accessible.

  5. 14 Daniel Randolph
    April 29, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Great start on a design.

    I would put photos and ads into your design right away to get a feel for what it is going to look like. Adding all of that color may change how you look at the page. I think looking at the bottom that way may lead you to feel there are to many ads in a group.

    What about making a widget in your side bar with your really well designed apartment finding website so user can interact with it?

    One more idea would to display your multimedia would be a java slider on the side bar at the top. As much color and interesting images as you can have at the top of your site will draw in your audience.

    Can’t wait to see what your team comes up with!

  6. April 29, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Your header is weak. Shoot for something bolder. The Kansan has a pretty rad header. It looks great though!

    • 16 dballance
      April 29, 2009 at 11:17 pm

      @Jon Schleuss: We are definitely going to add more attention-grabbing features to the header. Remember that this is one of our first drafts for the site and they will continue to evolve as we progress through development. Thanks for the feedback!

    • April 29, 2009 at 11:19 pm

      Yeah, Sara and I had the same thought. We’ve been kicking around some new header ideas. We’ll get them posted soon!

  7. 18 Anika A.
    April 29, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Could we make a PDF version of the paper easily accessible from the home page?

  8. 19 Nicole Norfleet
    April 29, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    It looks very clean, so congrats to Sara for getting this done during exam time. I agree with Dan in terms of doing something radical and bold with the design. I like the way Mustang Daily uses those big buttons for their social media tools, like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. We could add Vimeo.

    I spoke with Helene before, and she said it wouldn’t slow down the site to put multimedia actually embedded on the home page, either. We should have a spot there for a feature photo, since we have one of those each day.

    I agree with Anika about the print version of the paper being easily accessible. Other college newspapers just have a picture of the front page, but what about if at the bottom we copy the “enlarged button” idea and have one that says print edition and one that says crossword, and etc? For the section titles, we could have symbols next to them, maybe, which represents their topic. I am trying to find an example of this to best explain.

    I totally want to make use of some of the different color time stamps and little symbols for different kinds of content like the NYTimes uses. I wasn’t sure what the “other news” section was, but I was hoping that the breaking news stories similar to what the Winston-Salem Journal’s continuous news desk would be up there near the lead story.

    There still needs to be something fairly large about registering. Are all of our desk stories going to fit in the right rail? I totally think we should run with that weather banner idea. Since we already know from this previous year that opinion is our most viewed section, why don’t we make it easy to find in a different format on the home page? This is a reallly long post, but I needed a break from finals work. Love you, guys!

  9. 20 Joe
    April 30, 2009 at 12:57 am

    The design certainly feels typical… and I don’t mean to offend, of course. I know (as a fellow newspaper webmaster) that it is extremely challenging to throw lots of content at a user so they find something they want to read, but also not overwhelm them.

    From the top…

    The banner looks very generic… I’d love to see it spiced up. Not crazy graphics or anything, but something that makes the site _yours_.

    I’m not very fond of the current date. It just doesn’t make too much sense to me. Maybe throw the search bar up on the far top right?

    Another thing I think would be nice is a hidden feature that could break below (or above) your menu for breaking news?

    The menu- make the text bigger! It looks too small (to me at least).

    The left sidebar: Keep the popular, lose the recent articles… UNLESS you will be adding articles every day (I’m not sure of your publish cycle). And I disagree with what Cameron said above: keep the poll! Polls are a great way to connect your print and online version! I do, however, agree with Cameron with a vote up/down feature. Those are always neat, and let you know what your most proactive users are interested in.

    The center/right sidebar: For individual articles, I think comments should go at the end, and print should go where the comments link is now. I want to comment after reading the article, not before I read it… that’s my thinking anyhow. I think the top ad on the right sidebar should be taken out and replaced with a multimedia feature spot. I like the idea of a few prominent ads, but to each their own. I don’t know what your advertising business is like, but that’s just my opinion.

    Hope I gave you some valuable feedback! And good luck!


  10. 21 Whitney
    April 30, 2009 at 3:50 am

    I like the cleanliness of it. Re: alternatives to the sidebar — would it be possible to have a twitterfeed/box like the “most recent” boxes? Or something that would auto-update? I also think that some way of making the blog feature prominent, or including blog posts in the stories column, or finding some way of increasing visibility of the blog would be great — especially in finding ways to make more people in the newsroom more likely to use it.

  11. 22 Sara
    April 30, 2009 at 7:42 am

    I agree that the comment feature should be at the bottom of the article.

    Other suggestions:
    1. Have an archive that can be viewed by issue date, rather than just a search feature.

    2. Put links to the other articles from the issue on the page of each article as opposed to the current platform where you have to go back to the homepage after each article.

    3. I’d like to see a “most recently commented” box somewhere.

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The Magic Bullet

Our goal for next year is to bring The Daily Tar Heel to the forefront of online innovation. We've got an opportunity to create a CMS that will help the paper transition to Web-first publishing and facilitate an online mindset among staff. We believe there's no magic bullet that will solve every newspaper's problems online, but we're trying to find the magic bullet that will solve ours. This blog will chronicle The Daily Tar Heel's move off of College Media Network onto a Drupal CMS.

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