News at a Glance with New York Times Article Skimmer

February 26, 2009  |  Online Applications

The New York Times homepage has a lot of news to report. While well-organized and well-designed, the Times recognizes that there's still room for improvement as seen in their article skimmer prototype:

Here at The Times, we often hear a common story of usage from our customers: Reading the Sunday Times, spreading out the paper on a table while eating brunch. For many of our customers, this ritual is fundamental to their enjoyment of the weekend, and its absence would be jolting.

With this in mind, we present an as-yet-unnamed article skimmer. Think of it as an attempt to provide the Sunday Times experience anytime. Of course, there are parts we can’t replicate: the satisfying crinkle of the paper; the circular stain of your coffee; the smell of newsprint.

Article headlines and snippets are arranged by grid and divided by news categories. Jump to a specific category with the sidebar on the right or browse up and down with the arrow keys on your keyboard. I personally think it makes skimming easier. What do you think?

[via NYT First Look via Waxy]

4 Comments

  • Eh, it’s a nice improvement, but I’m not a big fan of reading in a grid format like that. Reading in a grid format seems somewhat inefficient to me. I was a huge fan of WSJ’s morning brief email, until they reassigned the guy that wrote it last November. It was something to look forward to every morning with links to interesting articles from all over the web. Now it’s computer generated & only WSJ content that’s an extreme dissappointment, sigh.

  • There’s a news-aggregation site called Newser.com that has a very unique grid approach to story presentation. It arranges headlines and story photos in a scrollable grid. You can mouse-over for a one-paragraph summary popup of the article written by the newser staff. From that popup, you can go to a more detailed newser page (more summary, related links, etc.) or jump directly to the article.

    Like any radically different interface, it takes a bit of getting used to. After trying it for a week, though, I’ve grown very fond of it. Plus, their editorial staff seems to be quite fond of the nytimes ; )

  • Very elegant, I think. Sure, nothing particularly innovative as it pertains to the internet’s plethora of aggregators and readers, but this is a pretty big move for an organization that has become such an institution like the New York Times. They know they need to innovate.

    Kudos on how they somehow managed to have the layout gracefully adjust itself at different resolutions and even as the window is resized.

    Regardless, I see the interface as a great foundation for new tools and functionality over time, and a great standard for the industry.

  • The trouble with a uniform grid is that it flattens the rich hierarchy of cascading headline font sizes that the nytimes.com page currently has. So, you can skim _more_, but it takes more mental effort to gauge the relative significance of each skimmed item.

    I appreciate that they’re approaching the Sunday Times experientially and trying to port it over to digital. The stumbling block is going to be visual bandwidth, though: a full newspaper page is probably about 5-10 computer screens’ worth of data and a single word in the middle of paragraph might catch your eye and lead you to read the title. We’re still a long way off from that in digital, squinting into our little flatscreen portals…

    Maybe you could use subtle mouse gestures to skim through the whole article text, a bit like mousing horizontally over ‘event’ thumbnails to see the contained images in iPhoto. (?)

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