26 June 2012

[web_design] OregonLive Redesign: Say Hello To My Prelo-Slab Friend

2847.In case you've somehow, during the past day, not dialled-up OregonLive, the The Oregonian-ish website run by Advance Publications, The Big O's parent, you're in for a surprise, boy-o.

If you've sworn off OLive (as some I know have), here's what you're missing:

A cleaner, leaner design. A big, meaty guts-column of real-time-updated stories, theme selectable by a drop-down (Top Stories/News/Sports/Entertainment/Opinion). A buff-colored, spacious header that extrudes into the page as you scroll down.

Departments? They got'em:

Each one of those blue buttons open a dialog that allows you to select criteria, you click a search-button, and it's off to the races. This is all below the "fold" in the right-side column. Below this, you'll find a most read/most commented block, and at the footer, direct links to direct sections.

One of the biggest complaints about OLive over the years it's existed is its clutteredness. It was not the most useful of interfaces, and unless you knew what you were looking for, you could indeed get lost while looking for what you were (or weren't finding). The most irritating thing to me was the center, where sports stories were thrown together in a mixed-hierarchy goulash. While the sections were laid out across the top, it was a matter of guessing to see to it that you picked the right one to drill down into.

This is, indeed a better design. Although the menus that would explode into the screen when you merely moused over the section titles along the top were a little tough to get use to … well, all interfaces have a learning curve. This one's mercifully short. I already, after just a few minutes, know where I want to go to get what I want to know. The clean, clear, and organized look of the site is a refreshing change from the gallimaufry chaos of the original OLive.

The most striking feature of the redesign, and the one that leaps right out (and almost grabs you by the throat), is that heavy, authoritative font. It's called Prelo-slab, you can find some here, and boy is it an aggressive look in the application. It almost dares you not to click it. Actually, in the ways it's being used, it comes off as a little too heavy; I note, at the vendors page, there's maybe another weight I'd use for those headlines.

But you know what? I like the redesign.

Although, biggest flaw? For a few minutes I thought I'd stumbled into some big ol' Reddit.

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