Update on New Home Page

Just wanted to send out an update on our new home page after reading through the thousands of the e-mails and comments you've contributed over the past week. Now, we're ready to talk about changes we've already made or are planning to make to the page in the coming days and weeks.

Discussions
The most common complaint we received was that we've hidden our discussions. Ironically, we've actually moved it higher up on the home page because it's such a popular feature on the site. (If you haven't seen it, there's a Discussions box on the upper left side of the home page, right under the Opinions box). The bigger issue for readers seems to be the removal of the full discussion schedule from the home page. That decision was made to save space to allow us to move Discussions up higher. However, to provide easier access to the full schedule, we will soon be adding a button in the Discussions box that will pop up the day's lineup. This pop-up box will look similar to the View All button under the News Columns & Blogs area.

Additionally, to allow Discussions to stand out more when promoted elsewhere on the home page, we'll be adding a chat icon similar to the new photo, video and audio icons we rolled out with the new home page.

World/Politics/Nation Headlines
There was concern about the removal of the headlines from these three sections in our More Top Stories area farther down the home page. We made the decision to remove those headlines based on two facts: 1) articles from these sections make up a large part of our top news table, and 2) those links didn't get many clicks. However, because these omissions clearly struck a chord, we'll restore those headlines soon.

Metro News
Many of you expressed a concern that we'd also removed Metro headlines from the bottom of the Washington home page. We'd planned to have a Metro headlines ticker closer to the top of the home page for launch, but were working out some technical issues at that time. We've since added that local news ticker to the Washington home page, right above Diversions. This ticker gives the Washington home page significantly more local flavor.

Most E-Mailed
The substitution of Most Viewed for Most E-Mailed hasn't pleased everyone. However, the good news is that we'll soon be unveiling a new page that will feature all of our "most" pages, including Most E-Mailed Articles, Most Viewed Articles, Most Viewed Photos Galleries, and more. That page should be ready within a few weeks. In the meantime, we will soon be adding a link to Most E-Mailed list at the bottom of the Most Viewed module, which is located at the upper right of the U.S./World home page, and halfway down the page on the right on the Washington home page.

Overall, while the comments on this blog have been largely negative, the e-mail traffic we've received has been far more positive, with the major compliments being that the page is loading faster, is easier to read and that the multimedia strip and icons have been helpful for readers interested in video, photography and audio. Thanks to everyone who has submitted a comment or sent an e-mail. We will continue to read through your feedback and keep evaluating our home page and site for opportunities to make it better. If you haven't commented yet, and would like to, go to the bottom of this post or send an e-mail to executive.editor@washingtonpost.com.

Thanks,
Jim Brady
Executive Editor, washingtonpost.com

By Jim Brady |  April 10, 2007; 3:11 PM ET
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Comments

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When you redesign the Most Emailed and Most Viewed lists, can you include a one-sentence summary of the article the way the NYT does? Half the time the article's title gives absolutely no hint of its content....

Posted by: Vulture Breath | April 10, 2007 03:22 PM

The absence of a full listing of the online discussions wouldn't be such a big deal (or even a big deal at all) if you kept the RSS feeds of live online up-to-date. Unfortunately most of the Post RSS feeds tend to run at least 24 hours behind (and often more). Any particular reason why?

Posted by: RSS | April 10, 2007 03:25 PM

Is there still a link on the home page to 'Most Emailed Articles'? I can't seem to locate it...

Posted by: Alyssa | April 10, 2007 03:33 PM

What about fixing the so-called 'Smart Living'? If all you want is the recipe finder and click on that, you don't get it; you get the 'Smart Living' home page instead. Why bother having the link on the front page if people are going to be forced to click the link again on the next page??

Posted by: bethesda | April 10, 2007 03:37 PM

Alyssa, we're putting the link to most e-mailed up shortly. It will be in the most viewed module that is on the upper right of the U.S./World home page, and midway down on the right on the Washington home page.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 10, 2007 03:50 PM

Bethesda, I'll pass on the feedback on the link.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 10, 2007 03:52 PM

RSS, I'll pass that on as well. Don't have an answer handy.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 10, 2007 03:53 PM

I'm having a devil of a time finding the daily chats. It used to be easy to find them at the bottom of the home page. Where are they now?

Posted by: Union Station | April 10, 2007 03:53 PM

I have to take issue with the amount of Flash on the front page. When you implement links in Flash, users can no longer right-click and open in a new tab, new window, whatever. I know Flash will respond, upon right-click, with its own menu (Open, Open in new window, Copy link) but this breaks on systems that block pop-up windows. Also people who center-click links to open in a new tab or window are out of luck with the current setup. Tickers (for Metro news) and "scrollers" (for multimedia, etc) can be implemented using DHTML/AJAX, which avoids all the Flash problems (see NYTimes for an example on the scroller).

Posted by: Dan | April 10, 2007 04:02 PM

It looks cleaner, but that comes at the price of having made the site seem much more static, with (seemingly) fewer changes or updates throughout the day.

Posted by: 20001 | April 10, 2007 04:04 PM

-we will soon be adding a button in the Discussions box that will pop up-

I guess if you don't know how many people hate and disable popups, that seems like a good idea.

-Overall, while the comments on this blog have been largely negative, the e-mail traffic we've received has been far more positive-

Anyone who has been on Usenet for a week or more knows the debate loser always has emails, hidden by privacy concerns, that completely support their position despite all public postings to the contrary. Even Sen. Joe McCarthy had his private list, too! I think it's time to stop reading newspapers. The hypocrisy level's way too high!

PeggyM

Posted by: PeggyM | April 10, 2007 04:12 PM

2001, I can assure you the page is not updated less... It still gets updated, on average, every 10 minutes or so. Doesn't mean we swap out the top story, but there's always some change being made.


PeggyM, these are not pop-ups like ads, and thus they won't be blocked. As for the e-mail issue, choose to believe it or not to. But anyone who spends much time looking at public comments vs. private e-mail knows the latter is always a bit more toned down. Everything is not a conspiracy.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 10, 2007 04:28 PM

PeggyM, I was just about to write the same thing about Usenet!

And to WaPo, this is a fact, not a judgment: your navigation is still broken for me. Here's a screenshot: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/waposcreenshots/photo/294928804323219682/0

Posted by: usability tester | April 10, 2007 04:32 PM

As for a daily chats, they are now near the top of the home page, right below the opinions box. We promote one major chat at a time, with links to a few other chats/transcripts. The flyout schedule will be on the page by week's end, and will be curious to see whether it makes it easier to find things.

Question for all of you: Did you use the Discussions button in the global navigation at all? It didn't appear it was used very much based on traffic, but if it was being used, that would be good to know.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 10, 2007 04:34 PM

As one of the many who posted comments, I appreciate that you've finally responded and appear to be taking our concerns into account. I'm still reserving judgment on whether the website will be worth visiting as often as before -- a pop-up list of discussions, though better, isn't great, and the overall page still looks dumbed-down -- but I'm glad you're at least acknowledging your customers.

Posted by: jane | April 10, 2007 04:39 PM

Jane, curious on the dumbed-down theme that ran through a lot of these comments. What we cover and what we promote in the news hole hasnt changed, so wondering what is giving people the impression that the page is dumbed down. I'd argue making something easier to read by adding white space and an easier-to-read font is an entirely different issue. We have side-by-side printouts of the new and old home page, and I don't see much of a difference in terms of amount of news on the page. I'll see if we can publish this so you can make your own judgements.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 10, 2007 04:48 PM

Jim Brady wrote:

"We've since added that local news ticker to the Washington home page, right above Diversions. This ticker gives the Washington home page significantly more local flavor."

I personally would prefer static (i.e., non-scrolling ticker) headlines where I can quickly scan the Metro article title to determine whether or not I want to view the detailed story versus pausing for several seconds while the four or so headlines scroll by at an excruciating slow pace...

Posted by: Hamilton | April 10, 2007 04:58 PM

First off, thanks for your response. It's too bad so many people went crazy over the time spent waiting for a response. It was obvious to me we weren't being ignored and that you'd show up when you had something to share with us.

I'm looking forward to seeing this new popup block for Live Online. To me there were two equally convenient aspects to having that box on the front page:

1. I could see all of the day's chats at once
2. I could tell which ones were happening NOW because it said so.

I hope this popup box contains both of those details. But really, I still don't understand why you don't just return the box. Why do I need a one-sentence summary of one chat, the title of two other chats, and a picture? I'd still rather just have a list of the discussions for the day. Seems like if the popup contains the info that people really want, then maybe it shouldn't be a popup but should just be there in the first place. But I'm willing to give it a try.

Posted by: Willie G | April 10, 2007 05:07 PM

Maybe it`s because I'm a Mac user, but elements such as the News Columns box are buggy on my browser (the latest version of Safari). It seems to get into a battle with the content underneath and it`s more or less a crapshoot which link I end up clicking. Also, while I`m here, when is the site going to fix this comments section so it doesn`t delete most forms of punctuation? I`ve learned to use reverse marks, as this message shows, but I see lots of comments from people upset the Post is making them look illiterate.

Posted by: iceman | April 10, 2007 05:16 PM

i do not now nor have i ever had a discussions box in the upper left corner of the home page under the Opinions button.

Posted by: Try Again | April 10, 2007 05:18 PM

I'd be interested to see that side-by-side. For me at least, I don't find having to scroll down (or to the right) to be convenient for news-at-a-glance. (Same problem I have with the NY Times -- there's a lot there below the "fold," but it's not amenable to quick check-ins.) I used to keep the Post open as my homepage, and glance at it regularly. Also, there have been days when the headline stories didn't really warrant the attention. (Maybe that's improving.)

Perhaps most of all, in those first few days, I don't recall seeing the subsidiary links -- related stories, columns, etc. (such as what you have under the Gonzales subpoena and Imus stories right now). I thought that was a real loss, but if you're putting it back in, that will help a lot.

I use your site in two main ways: for daily Kurtz-Froomkin-blogs-chats (i.e., what I don't get on my front lawn), and for news through the day. I'm still here for the first, even when it's been less user-friendly. Jury's still out on the second, but I think I see some improvement.

Posted by: jane | April 10, 2007 05:21 PM

I do have a discussions box half-way down the page which is much lower than it was before. Also, you still sound pretty defensive about your changes and even a little pompous and condescending in your explanations.

Posted by: Try Again | April 10, 2007 05:25 PM

It would be helpful to use a different color for links clicked on previously, so that we can tell what we've seen at a glance.

Also, will there be more than 2 stories under each heading?

I'm another reader who liked seeing what chats were underway now (with the 'live' tag).

Posted by: S Swift | April 10, 2007 05:31 PM

Sounds like you released a beta version. If you had simply told us that in the original Editor's Note or the Q&A with Compton and asked for some patience, you could have saved yourselves and your readers a lot of angst. You probably would have gotten a lot more constructive criticism too.

Posted by: Work in Progress? | April 10, 2007 05:32 PM

I don't know if this is related to the recent changes, but for the last couple weeks, every time I go to the TV Schedule, I have to give my zip code and select my cable system. It didn't do that previously -- I entered that information just once some time ago and it "remembered." I even took the opportunity this time to create an account, but it doesn't make any difference.

Posted by: Cosmo | April 10, 2007 05:35 PM

Glad to finally see some sort of response; you would have saved everyone (including yourselves) some angst and anger if you had simply stated in the other thread that the issues were being examined and that a response would be forthcoming once that process could be completed.

I'm very glad to hear that the daily list of chats will now be added as a pop-up box. I hope that the format will at a minimum provide the information that was formerly available on the homepage (i.e., a listing of all daily chats, with an indication of which ones are live, and which ones have been completed; ). I do hope that you are NOT planning to add in extra white space between the listings, which actually makes them more difficult to read; the schedule looks just fine as it's shown here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/liveonline/?hpid=discussions.

It does seem from your comment that the WaPo does not quite understand the points that people have been making about the Online Discussion section in the many posts critical of the new format:

"The most common complaint we received was that we've hidden our discussions. Ironically, we've actually moved it higher up on the home page because it's such a popular feature on the site. (If you haven't seen it, there's a Discussions box on the upper left side of the home page, right under the Opinions box)."

The discussions ARE now harder to find/access because the SCHEDULE is not readily available on the front page as it once was -- you must leave the front page and click through screens in order to find out what is on the schedule for the day and when different discussions will take place. This is a very smart and savvy group of readers, and I'm sure that most of us who have expressed critical comments about the change had figured that out very, very quickly.

That's not irony; it's a matter of an unfriendly design, and an apparent lack of understanding of how so many of your active users actually interact with the front page.

That being said, I am very much looking forward to seeing the re-redesigned site!

Posted by: Andrea | April 10, 2007 05:55 PM

Re the "dumbed down" effect: about a third of the home page seems to be ads, and another third is soft features like living, recipes, celebrities, etc. You are the premier paper in the capital of the WORLD. People come to you, presumably, for the best, hardest coverage of politics, national news, geopolitical news. Coverage of this needs to be primary. It needs to be accorded more importance than coverage of technology, business, education, and health.

If you have to, make people hunt to find the soft features. Don't make them hunt to find the hard news features. This is my problem with the redesign and all the new white space.

When I go to the New York Times homepage, maybe it looks a teensy bit cluttered, but I see a lot of hard news right away. I don't feel like I have to hunt for it.

Posted by: Vulture Breath | April 10, 2007 06:04 PM

Willie G, the pop-up will indeed include the full sked and what's live at any given time. It will actually be exactly the same as the sked that was previously on the home page.

Iceman, I'll pass on the Safari feedback. We've tested in all browsers, but there are always anomalies. What version of Safari are you using?

Work in Progress, everything on the web is beta, that's the beauty. You release, you read, you respond. Obviously, we didn't release the page with idea we'd change it, but we're responding to the issues raised. That's the way this should work.

Cosmo, not sure what's up with the TV sked. That's got nothing to do with this... I'll pass it on.

Vulture Breath, when we can get the old and new home pages up side by side, you will see there are less ads than there were before. That said, we need to figure out ways to make money, so ads are part of that deal. But there really are not more than there were before...

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 10, 2007 06:24 PM

I don't have a Discussions link anywhere near the top left corner of my (local) home page.

It seems to me that for the first day or so of the new front page, there was a Discussion link between the "City Guide" and "Jobs" links in the buttons at the top. Why not put it there?

I also think adding more leading between lines of a paragraph makes them harder to read, not easier. Add the leading between the different listings, but there's just too much leading between the lines of the abstracts under the headlines.

I do like that you improved the right-hand side Jobs, Cars, Real Estate box. I used to get so frustrated that something would catch my eye just as it disappeared. Thanks!

Posted by: TBG | April 10, 2007 06:39 PM

Jim Brady, thank you for finally addressing our concerns. I am still not satisified with your answers; you appear to not really be listening.

For example, why add a pop-up box for discussions when we have said loudly and clearly that we like having the whole list and real-time display on the front page? Why is this not worthy?

Second, how could the less "clutter" and more white space NOT looked dumbed-down to you? You removed entire sections and headings of news and replaced them with...well, nothing.

Video links, photo displays and various other multimedia presentations are OK, but not at the expense of news! The WaPo web site should reflect the integrity and tradition of the printed edition that has kept so many of us loyal readers for decades.

And, finally, what about the various postings inquiring whether we would have the option of choosing (and, yes, possibly paying for) to return to the old version? If you have print outs of both (and you mentioned in an above reply) why not share those with us? Let us vote on which one we prefer.

Again, thank you for reading these comments. Don't stay away so long this time; it gives the appearance that you don't care.

Posted by: sharon in baltimore | April 10, 2007 06:49 PM

Mr. Brady -

Another thing that drives me nuts is the format now being used to list "Today's Editorials" on the page you reach after clicking on the "Opinions" button. Instead of listing them in static text on the page, there is now a series of 3 or 4 titles that fade in and out, one title following after the other. In order to see all of the titles, you have to stare at the screen for nearly 30 seconds before you can see each of the titles. Then, if you click on a link to read one of the editorials and then return to the Opinions page, you have to watch the titles cycle through again in order to catch the title of the next one you wish to read. This appears to be a design choice, and not a matter of there not being enough room to list the 3 or 4 editorals directly on the webpage...

This format is so frustrating that I have now stopped reading these editorials (and I'm someone who starts clicking over to the Opinions page at midnite to see if the next day's features have been posted yet so I can try to read them before I go to bed!).

Is any thought being given to changing this?

Thanks; you're efforts to respond to the various posts here is appreciated.

Posted by: Andrea | April 10, 2007 06:58 PM

My dropdowns on the top menu bar are also screwed up--the background square that's supposed to set off the links that appear only appears under about 1/3 of the links. The rest appear over the homepage text/graphics and aren't terribly readable. I'm using Netscape 7.2 on Mac OS X 10.4.9 (how do you people stand Safari?). Thanks.

Posted by: Diane | April 10, 2007 07:14 PM

1. I really like the little photo and video icons next to the links for pictures and videos.
2. Is there a way to have a certain stock always come up on my homepage, without me having to type the symbol in every time?
Thank you.

Posted by: eric | April 10, 2007 07:49 PM

Mr Brady - Don't be afraid to admit a big mistake. these tweaks are ok. But I don't think the WP realizes that the people go to the web site multiple times a day at work are surepticiously multitasking - dipping for 2 minutes at a time while editing a document to check a breaking story or a developing story, not for lifestyle advice or to read what some minister thinks about Jesus. We are news junkies. the previous site was almost perfect. It was dense (like a NEWSPAPER FRONT PAGE) but well designed graphically and you could get almost anywhere from the front page without pulldowns and popups. Even WETA eventually realized they made a mistake. Please don't take that long to correct your mistake.

Posted by: Ann | April 10, 2007 07:51 PM

To get to editorials without waiting for the scrolling, just go to the Opinion menu button and click on Editorials. Or go here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/05/30/LI2005053000331.html?nid=roll_editorials

Posted by: Editorials | April 10, 2007 08:44 PM

"To get to editorials without waiting for the scrolling, just go to the Opinion menu button and click on Editorials. Or go here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/05/30/LI2005053000331.html?nid=roll_editorials"

Thanks; I do realize that. Another option is to go to the "print" version (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/print/editorialpages/index.html), but that takes even more clicks to get to the content (although it probably does take less time than waiting for the titles to cycle through on the Opinions page!).

Still, I would much prefer to be able to review all of the opinion content from one page instead of having to click through to yet another page to get to the list of editorials. I find that I'm not taking the extra steps to avoid the scrolling list and thus have stopped reading the editorials.

Posted by: Andrea | April 10, 2007 09:39 PM

"Live Discussions" is most definately not under the Opinions box. It is under the News box. I just found it tonight (yea!!). For the past few weeks, I thought I was perhaps going blind. Or mad. Nope. Turns out you guys just hid it.

Posted by: Joseph | April 10, 2007 09:47 PM

Excellent web site.

Yet it does look "dumbed down" now. Only designers care about white space. Most readers would prefer the l940 NYT 8-column format, with banks of headlines and skinny columns. We read. That's why we came here. And we can control the size of type on our monitors.

Another thing: Too much Froomkin. Too strong a point of view, too easy to miss the label of commentary, and it doesn't help that you are using such a giddy headshot.

Reiteration: we appreciate the responsiveness and the overall excellence of the site.

Posted by: cw | April 10, 2007 10:52 PM

Mr. Brady,

I understand the motivation behind tickers. They supposedly are able to show multiple lines of information in one line's worth of space. However, echoing some of the comments above and in the previous comments page, a lot of people are scanning the front page very quickly, multiple times a day at work to see the new news. We don't have the time to drill down into each of the individual sections when we are at work. (At home, whether it be the web site or the Sunday print paper it's a different story.) The ticker interface forces one to wait, tick, tick, tick, five or six seconds for the stories to flip by. I think people would rather see a list of five most recent stories they can look at in one second. Besides, the Washington Post is the hometown paper for a population of 8 million. You figure we can afford more than one line for Metro news.

Measuring the number of clicks to determine how useful a feature might be a fallacy. If the information is all on the front page to begin with, the reader wouldn't even have to register a click. I think that's definitely the case with the Live Discussions. It was nice seeing a list of the daily discussions so I could tell if I wanted to join it or read the transcript. If it wasn't interesting to me, I didn't click it. If it was, I did click to read it. Fact of the matter is, we're not going to read every Live Discussion. So the number of clicks on Live Discussions from the front page shouldn't be an indication of how popular Live Discussions are, but rather how popular the particular discussion topics are. When the goal of usable web design is to minimize the number of clicks to find content, measuring the number of clicks to determine which content is popular doesn't seem to make sense. If anything, increased number of clicks may be an indicator that the content is difficult to navigate to.

The density reduction (or perhaps the appearance of it) is what bothers me and many of your other readers the most. Two links under a heading goes counter to
even the most basic style guide rules: one doesn't make a bullet list unless there are at least three items, one doesn't make a section unless there are three subsections underneath the section. Three is the magic number -- two looks sparse and incomplete. I think 3-5 items is the sweet spot, more than 5-7 items in any list and then it starts looking too long.

If you assume there are about ten "sections" of a newspaper, i.e. ten unit blocks on the website and one reduces the number of front page links from 3 to 2 each, that's 10 links taken away, a 33% reduction in content. A user now has to use the drill down navigation 33% more often than being able to just jump straight
to the story. Even if this is a perception thing, as you claim, it really looks like we are getting shortchanged by reducing the list lengths from 3-5 down to 2 per section.

Regarding the page width, which a number of people commented about on the previous set of comments, people are good at reading down a page, but not across a page. Ideally, page content should be no wider than four or five inches. This is why reading a book (sentences are about 4-5 inches long) is easier than reading a printout from your word processor (sentences are about 6-7 inches long). This is the same reason why the usability gurus are ok with vertical scrolling but shun horizontal scrolling on a web page. The new design has the eye constantly scanning left and right across almost the entire width of the monitor and it gets (subconsciously) annoying. Yes, the content is broken into columns, but there are large, prominent blocks in the right column as well as the three-column wide feature bars in the middle of the page that forces the eye all the way across the page and then back. The previous design had two columns of news content, saving the third for smaller, less prominent advertisements and lesser read sections like the classified, real estate, etc. Now the third column, has advertisements mixed with popular content like most read articles. Even though the physical page width might be the same as before, our eyes are scanning horizontally all the way across the three columns, where as before, we were just scanning horizontally across two columns and saving the third for a vertical pass down.

Lastly, the line spacing (aka leading). The general typographic rule is to increase the line spacing with the length of the line. That is, if your line runs the length of a page (6-7 inches) then increasing the line spacing will help readers find their place when their eyes jump to the next line. (Grab a few books off the bookshelf, observe the relationship between line length and line spacing.) In print newspapers the columns are narrow, and as a result, the line spacing is very tight. I admit, print typography is different than web typography, but the columns here on the website are still relatively narrow, so it just looks really strange to have a larger line spacing, especially since many of us are used to the traditional line spacing in the print edition of the newspaper.

Just my observations... and I know you and your staff have been piled on in the past few weeks, to put it lightly. Keep in mind, we comment strongly because *we care*. You have very loyal readers who demand the best from one of the best newspapers on this Earth. Looking at the last round of comments, you have readers who are in touch and intelligent. We love the Washington Post -- it's both a newspaper for the world and a newspaper for our hometown -- and we want washingtonpost.com to be a great website. So understand when we get defensive when we fear the Post heading in the direction that television news has been heading towards in the past decades: four minutes of news at the top of the hour and the rest as fluff and commercials. We don't want a morning news show, we don't want CNN -- we want The Washington Post.

Posted by: Kendrick | April 10, 2007 10:58 PM

I see in your reply to someone else you claim the new font is easier to read. IT's NOT, at least not for sight impaired, and there doesn't seem to be any way to adjust it to a more readable font.

Thanks for your replies.

Posted by: Rose I | April 10, 2007 11:10 PM

Also, is there anyway to have a larger text for the blogs? I have my view set to LARGEST, and that works ok for the articles, but seems to have no effect on the blogs. The list of discussions and transcripts is so small, I can barely see it to click on what to view.

On the homepage it seems like the lines are double spaced and that makes it uncomfortable to read.

Thanks again for taking feedback.

Posted by: Rose I (again) | April 10, 2007 11:17 PM

First, I rather enjoy the look of the new page but I spend more time on it throughout the day than some of the people who have posted here. I don't spend a few seconds several times a day looking for top news and such; I spend a few minutes scrolling through the page for stories I'm interested in. That's not to discount any opinions above - that's just to qualify my own appreciation of the new layout.

Second, I just wanted to express my appreciation of the thoroughness and well-balanced nature of Kendrick's comment above. So many stories on this site are followed by mean-spirited, poorly-worded comments that add almost nothing to the discussion. Kendrick's in-depth points about visual design and how the site could better follow design guidelines were both informative and well-said. I hope some commenters on this site follow his style in the future instead of resorting to simplistic, non-constructive diatribes against minor elements of a story or column.

Posted by: PK | April 11, 2007 12:06 AM

I am interested in the Special Report of the U.S. Attorney Firings Investigation. To find the page, you should go to Politics, then In Depth, although the top drill-down states Special Report. Then, it's not on the page...and it only appears with some of the articles. It's very difficult to find. Thankfully I have it bookmarked.

Also, I don't like the font change to the lead story summaries. Too hard on the eyes.

Thanks.

Posted by: Debbie | April 11, 2007 12:33 AM

You still don't get it, Brady. You NEVER told anyone this was beta or that it was a work in progress. So your comment "that is the beauty" is just a pompous afterthought trying to hide the fact that you screwed up the PR for your new website release. You owe all your readers a BIG APOLOGY (and you need to tone down the attitude in your comments).

Posted by: Work in Progress | April 11, 2007 01:27 AM


I am an overeas reder and thus depend on the webswite completely for my access to the WP. My major complaint has been the slow loading time. I do not understand why your site loads so much mroe slowly than others. If it is because you are so popular, then I suppose mroe investment in servers or whatever would solve the problem.

My other major issue has been communicated several times, to no avail. That is when one pushes the print button, the printer friednly text always includes a large, full color ad. do you realize the amount of color and bw ink such an insert consumes. It is almost as if you are getting a cut of HP profits. No other newspaper inflicts this cost on its readers. As I said, I have sent many e-mails. withaut even receiving an answer. I assume your revenue situation must be so dire that you do not care about reader's interestsm, but I can assure you, this is no small problem.

Posted by: Fordson 61 | April 11, 2007 03:08 AM

I do know which is worse, the new web site or your response. You seem to have a problem admitting you made a mistake. What positive email traffic are you talking about? Why do not you share what you claim to be positive feedback with the rest of us. Belive me with this attitude I do not think you are capable of competing with other news sites. You need to RESPECT your readers and accept their feedback not try to argue and be defensive. In any case Good Luck, you are going to need it.

Posted by: YOU ARE FIRED! | April 11, 2007 05:21 AM

Piggybacking on the comment that was made earlier, Mr. Brady, about people checking in for a few seconds when they get a chance during the day, I've emailed and commented on this blog about the color of the links. Viewed links in a different color than unviewed links (like it used to be on the Post's webpage) would be very helpful in this regard. Can you comment on this and at least say whether you plan anything in regards to this? Thanks.

Posted by: IMGoph | April 11, 2007 07:24 AM

I discovered why I was having so much trouble locating the discussions (and this might help "try again" too). The description was that it was under "Opinions" in the "upper left corner." Now, when you consider the long length of the homepage, then opinions is in the upper left part. But, when you open the page, you still have to scroll DOWN to find it. When you say "upper left" I'm looking at the very top of the left side. Its not there! I can't even see it when I open the page. That is NOT the upper left. Its two mouse wheel turns down from the upper left.

Posted by: RT | April 11, 2007 07:57 AM

"Work In Progress" says (Jim) Brady needs to tone down his attitude and owes readers a big apology. He/she also calls the editor "Brady" without even a "Mr." or "Jim."

It's not polite to address people that way, and it's ironic to urge them to change their attitude in such a tone. It is not a constructive approach toward making a good news Web site -- or anything at all.

Posted by: soo doh nim | April 11, 2007 07:58 AM

One reaps what one sows, SOO DOH. I don't think a lot of respect has been sown by anyone working on this website lately. And, BTW, considering your comment, you ironically didn't even bother calling me MR. Work in Progress.

Posted by: Work in Progress | April 11, 2007 08:29 AM

The new web design really stinks !!! Put it back to the way it was.

I can't get to the live discussions half the time, the other half I can't see the daily list on the front page because you removed it and replaced it with a link that works half the time.

I hope you didn't pay them too much for this so called improved design.

Posted by: SallyJ | April 11, 2007 08:40 AM

Good Lord! This new home page is a mess! Where is the print version? I don't want to go to just one article of the Food, Metro and Home sections; I want to access to all the articles of those sections in one stroke!

Posted by: Washington | April 11, 2007 08:52 AM


Okay. I'm forced to post by the unsubstantiated claim that a lot of positive e-mails have flowed in. The new page is an unmitigated disaster. Let me repeat and add my firm support to an earlier commment. I use the WP site to "check a breaking story or a developing story, not for lifestyle advice or to read what some minister thinks about Jesus." This has become markedly harder to do. Do I care about the "On Being" feature that occupies a fifth of the page confronting me when I log on? I couldn't care less. Use the space for news. That's what you exist for. You've lost your way.

Posted by: COR | April 11, 2007 08:54 AM

Too little, too late. I've made the switch to NYT with the WaPo top 20 bookmarked. I've been checking back to see when/if you would finally respond but it doesn't sound like the changes will be sufficient to bring me back. I come to the site to read NEWS not watch VIDEOS. I can go to CNN or YouTube if I want to waste time on that. I too am really put-off by the prominence of stuff like OnBeing.

It's really a shame. I used come to your site numerous times a day but you have lost me.

Posted by: Suzanne | April 11, 2007 10:05 AM

As others suggested, there is probably a balance WP.com needs to consider, between the "news junkie" Washington users and out-of-town people like me who go to the site for half an hour every other day and read in-depth. Personally, I have no problem clicking around. I often find other interesting things to read that way. And I definitely do not want to see any Web site, no matter how hard the news, in a 1940s NYT 8-column style. White space is not just a design thing. It really does make it easier for online readers, me at least.
So I do think the site serves competing needs from different sections of readers, and maybe everyone has to compromise. Unless the Post wants to offer user-customizable sites.... ?

Posted by: Kim | April 11, 2007 10:08 AM

Hey, Work in Progress, speak for yourself please. I've been here from the get go complaining about the new design and I will continue to voice my displeasures but I appreciate Mr. Brady's responses over the last day and I think they're making a concerted effort at least to respond to our concerns. Don't presume to speak for all of the Post's readers. Talk about arrogant. Talk about needing to tone down your attitude.

Also, I don't really understand your complaint. You're saying that if they had stuck a "beta" label on the new site, you wouldn't have any problems with it because you'd know it was going to be changed again? Well, now we know it's going to be changed again, so who cares whether they called it beta from the start or not? You seem to be holding a grude over something that's long over and done with. Why not worry about getting them to change the site for the better rather than continuing to gripe over who told whom what when?

Posted by: Willie G | April 11, 2007 10:21 AM

(third follow-up post)

1. PLEASE LEAVE THE ORIGINAL COMMENTS LOG ASSESSABLE UNTIL YOU HAVE FULLY DELIVERED YOUR RESPONSES TO OUR CUSTOMER COMMENTS.

2. Concerning your old page, I have analyzed further how I used your news page as my home page (both home and work) for about eight years. Basically I scanned the page to identify stories that looked substantive to my interests and on average found maybe 6 to 8 at the start of the day and others periodically as the day went on.

3. With your new page, I am finding maybe 2 or 3 and then only coming back infrequently later in the day to scan the home page for updates. Time being at a premium, I am unwilling to click up and down through site levels and go searching through multiple other more focused pages when I can more easily pop over to NYT or BBC or Google and get much more expansive lists of top news stories from which to choose directly.

4. Now after many years I have changed from WaPo as my home page. If significantly more substantive stories aren't linked directly again from your home page in the future, I will be coming back less and less, as key portals to the rest of web news world are one click away.

5. I believe you have miscalculated and will not be able compete head on with CNN and USA Today and etc using this soft web news approach - it doesn't leverage the very real key and unique strengths of Washington Post news reporting.

6. Please make the changes needed ASAP.

7. GOOD LUCK.

Posted by: Dane | April 11, 2007 10:23 AM

It is much easier to scan through Previous Editions of the paper with the new link on the Print Edition page.

Posted by: | April 11, 2007 10:25 AM

I personally think it's crazy that a few of you think Mr. Brady was acting "pompous." He obviously listened to everyone's comments last week and did his best to solve them! Just because you specific complaint wasn't addressed, doesn't mean there wasn't a thousand other people wanting that issue the complete other way. The WaPo.com obviously wants to make the site as reader-friendly as possible, while sticking to the most important part - the news. I LOVE the new multimedia strip at the bottom of the homepage - very pretty and easy to use . The new OnBeing is also incredible - very innovative and impressive. The multimedia on the post.com really blows away other news sites, and really flows well with the print news articles. I also think the additional white space really allows you to read the headlines, and focus on the articles - but I do see how readers may have a problem with not getting very many headlines above the fold, compared to NYTimes.com and BBC. I think people like to take a quick look at the headlines, and then maybe go more indepth as they have time - maybe it's not as wide? Also, adding a new Discussions icon is a great idea!! Overall, I think the site is very aesthetically pleasing and obviously, the Post is still producing excellent news reporting and the discussions are great - and prove that the WaPo.com puts value into readers' participation.
Thanks for listening, Mr. Brady.

Posted by: Student Journalist | April 11, 2007 10:39 AM

P.S.
Don't you all love how you can post your comments under every article here? Where else can you do that? I personally love the intelligent discussions that follow the WaPo articles.

Posted by: Studen Journlist | April 11, 2007 10:51 AM

Mr. Work In Progress, I guess you can't win with some people. If I don't respond, I'm arrogant. If I do, I'm arrogrant. You've obviously already decided I'm the problem, so I'll move on to some other folks. I'm going to answer questions honestly and however I see fit. if you don't like the tone, so be it.

A few thoughts on the wave of comments since yesterday.

-- In our opinion, we did not make a mistake with the new home page. Folks can choose to believe or not to believe that we have lots of positive e-mail; we're obviously not going to publish those publicly. People have a right to privacy when they send e-mail. But ask yourself this? If we really were getting 100 percent negative feedback on the new home page, would we really not be making more significant changes? That would be insane. We have no plans to go back to the old home page. Obviously, that won't make many of you happy, but that's the honest answer.

As for the balance on the page, many are citing On Being as something that's a problem. On Being launched months ago, long before the new home page. More importantly, it's incredibly popular for many other readers. This is the hard part about this job; you have millions of readers who all want different things, and you try and find the best way to serve as many of them as possible. But everyone sees the site through their individual prism, which is understandable. But those two different goals, macro vs. micro, are often in conflict, hence the frustration many of you feel.

A few specific answers: Someone asked where the print edition is. It's right where it was before, but it's now called "Today's Paper" instead of "Print Edition."

As for the visited link color, I'll need to ask our designers about that.

One other overall comment: One bone of contention for many people is that we didn't tell people this was coming or ask them what they thought. On the first point, I guess I'm not sure what it would accomplish to tell people a new home page was coming. Until you can use it, that information isn't all that helpful. On the second point, we did many online panel tests and focus groups about the old and new home pages, and that data informed the decisions we made. Obviously, we couldn't ask every reader what they think, but we did talk to hundreds of active home page users along the way.

I'll pop back in later... Thanks.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 11, 2007 10:59 AM

Mr. Brady, Thank you for starting to address our concerns and for commenting in this blog. I would like to echo Hamilton's comments about the new Metro ticker. While I'm glad that there now is a dedicated place to find Metro stories on the front page, I too would prefer a static list rather than the ticker.

Posted by: Jen | April 11, 2007 11:00 AM

I agree with many of the comments I've just skimmed over:

I come to the WaPo page for NEWS, and I need to be able to see--at a glance--the stories (or blogs or discussions) available to me. The argument that the changes to the home page "save space" is ridiculous since it now takes more TIME to click through all the different sections to see a full list of the stories.

So long as the headlines are well-written, I prefer to decide for myself what to read and what not to read, but that becomes time-consuming if I have to click on each individual section heading if I want to see more than two headlines in (say) "Education."

Am I right in assuming that these changes are a result of a WaPo.com team (i.e. the website only) that is more or less entirely separate from the news-gatherers, or even the editors who decide what gets prominence in the print edition?

As for "most viewed" vs. "most emailed" I don't really care about this, but I did really like it when, after the Post broke a HUGE story (e.g. the Walter Reed scandal), there was a box called "in case you missed it" that kept those articles around on the home page for a few extra days. User-driven content selections are only so useful (see all the fluff articles that wind up on the NYT most-email list). If the Washington Post is PROUD of an article and thinks the public needs to see it, then make that the "most newsworthy." That would have the added benefit of encouraging your hard working reporters to make a splash even more regularly than they already do.

Oh, and I completely agree with a previous poster on one point--I do NOT need to see "On Being" all day every day if you guys are so concerned with saving "space." Please return to using that spot on the homepage for images from the most important story of the day. By the way, could someone explain to me why "saving space" is an issue at all on the web?

It's funny: all this time I really thought I was reading the WaPo site for the quality of the journalism, but it wasn't until these disastrous changes were made that I realized that I also gravitated toward this site (over NYT, or others) because of the ease of use. I hate to say it, because I really love the Post, but I'm considering switching my homepage.

Finally, to be clear: when I say "I love the Post," I mean the content, regardless of whether it's print or online. Get me to that content as quickly and easily as possible (i.e. with the fewest number of clicks) and I'm happy.

Posted by: John H. | April 11, 2007 11:05 AM

Can you please get rid of the "On Being" gigantic picture on the front page of the website? When I go to the website, I like to pictures of NEWS, not the same picture of a bunch of people rambling about faith. Surely, there is a picture of NEWS you can put on the front page.

Posted by: cg | April 11, 2007 11:19 AM

Please, please, PLEASE make the Discussions link more obvious. I scanned the home page, remembered previous alert that they'd been moved to top of page, looked there again, decided to check back here to see if they'd been moved yet again... I'm off to look for a third time for my beloved Discussions feature.

Posted by: Debbie K. | April 11, 2007 11:30 AM

Mr. Brady,

Well, its obvious you have decided we are going to like your horrid redesign or lump it. But still..

1. Usability 101...don't make the user work. All of your "solutions" add clicks or time to the user. Want to see the discussion schedule? Click a popup link! Local news? Sit and watch an annoying ticker!

Basic usability. Don't add hassles or work for the end user. You flunk that right off. Which makes me continue to believe you let designers run the user testing, instead of a usability expert. Get Jacob Nielsen in please if you can't follow this.

3. Usability 202. Stuff below the fold doesn't exist for users. You may have almost as much content as before (exactly how much is fluff rather than news now is unaddressed by you), but you've moved most of the hard content below the fold. So not only did you remove hard content (headlines from 3 to 2), but made the user now work for it.

In context, imagine of the paper Post did a "redesign", and A1 above the fold now had one major headline, and an equally prominent daily feature on "Holistic well being in a spiritual sense" (aka "On Being")? Two thirds of the pages hard conent is bumped below the fold on A1, and the rest lost inside.

How do you think paper sales would do?

3. Are the fluff lovers that much larger of a bloc than the new readers that you can waste a big chunk of the page on "On Being"? I can see a small banner...but must we waste major pixels on a big image?

4. Multimedia. Are you really going to tell me you have a huge demand for video? I'll buy you have a large demand for "On Being" type fluff, but there simply can't be that many unemployed readers who can spend time watching online videos during the day.

4. You already deliver differing home pages based on self-reported geography. The work level in offering one additional "non-fluff" page option would not be very much. The non-fluff page would dump the fluff like "On Being" and videos to below the fold, and reinstate hard content to the top.

You and that pompous designer you gave a chat to blather on about the web and its innovative ways. Well, here's one way web technology can solve this issue entirely.

Or are you just shoving fluff down all our throats and demanding we like it?


You already deliver different page content based

Posted by: John | April 11, 2007 11:50 AM

I like the idea of being able to switch between a "DC home page" to a "national home page." But I do not like having to "edit my profile" to do so. Please just make switching a simple link, with a cookie to remember how I left it last. Thanks.

Posted by: DC writer | April 11, 2007 11:58 AM

Mr. Brady,
Thank you for taking the time to respond. I just have a couple of suggestions:

Online Discussions: I would like to have a link from the top of every page on the site. It looks like it would fit nicely between City Guide and the Classifieds section on the blue bar at the top of each page. Alternatively, placing it up near Post Points (where I think it used to be?) would also be helpful.

Overall Page Feel: I prefer the new feel to the old feel, and I also have the impression that this version is updated more frequently and more noticeably than the old version. Kudos for that!

Scrollers: I appreciate what you are trying to do with the local news scroller at the bottom of the page. Would it be possible to add a button to the end of it to allow people to quickly scroll through the options (similar to a computer slide show that advances every so many seconds unless the user hits "forward" first).

Overall, many thanks to the Post for having the most comprehensive free website of any American newspaper. I for one appreciate it.

On a completely unrelated note, the RSS feed for Media Notes has been acting strangely today (random non-Kurtz articles popping up in the feed). Not sure who to pass that along to!

Posted by: Brian | April 11, 2007 11:58 AM

Sorry, one other suggestion that came to me recently. I would like to have a box that lists the most recently updated items on washingtonpost.com. Whether they're recently published wire pieces, blog entires, whatever, I think it would give people a better sense of how often the site is updated and what kind of information is being added. I assume a project like that would be difficult and take some time, but I think it would be worth considering.

Posted by: Brian | April 11, 2007 12:04 PM

Hey gang in the Post Newsroom-
Watch this video which already now has 4,500 views on YouTube on how to read the Washington Post http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT2MKqrsWeY
I think everyone who works at the paper that John Phillip Sousa built should view it. It is excellent focus group research.

Posted by: Randy | April 11, 2007 12:11 PM

DC writer, we are trying to minimize the number of clicks when you want to change your home page... We're working on that now. Thanks for the comment.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 11, 2007 12:17 PM

Jim thanks for responding, I think a lot of the misunderstanding is that what may get counted, as "news", by your staff, is not considered "news" by the readers. Sorry but I did not count the Living/Entertainment sections to be news. So when I look at the new site, it may have the same amount of links to stories as the old one. But now only a few of those go to stories I consider to be "news" (in the old traditional "hard news" sense).

This problem though is not limited to just this debate about the Post's web page. It's the big elephant in the room of the whole news industry from web, to TV, to print. You even say that "On Being" is very popular. But does that make it "news" in a journalistic sense? Hell you could just plop up a video of a dog humping a leg and I bet it would be really popular, but would it then be news? I have to agree with a lot of people here, "On Being" is just not news. It belongs inside the "living" section.

As a D.C. transplant in Atlanta I can tell you that the biggest problem the AJC has is the lack of news on their web page. Since nobody from Atlanta is from Atlanta the first (and sometimes only) exposer people get of the AJC is the web page. And most people joke that the AJC is just an entertainment magazine. Sure it may have a lot of links, but it's a few headlines then star gossip/cute pictures/sports gossip. But I bet they are popular, so they add more of the fluff each year and move the real news out. Meanwhile nobody will buy the print edition (Why? The web site is all fluff, why should I spend money on this?) Then the editors complain and wonder why newsreaders are going to other sources.

I also would like a way to get this rumored "metro D.C." centric version from out of state. Since I have always read the metro section to know what's going on back home, and besides my metro section down here just tells me the lottery numbers, and dating advice.
Thanks

Posted by: Starcrunch | April 11, 2007 12:32 PM

Contrary to what the editor has indicated, on my computer, there is no Discussions link on the top of the home page. You have to go under News to find such a link. I have no idea what the editor's home page looks like. For what it's worth, I access the site from Baltimore, and I also use both Netscape and IE. There is no Discussions link on top of the home page. Period. And, in Netscape, the links underneath the News tab, etc... are completely unreadable. Ultimately, there was no credible reason to change the old design and you really should have left well enough alone.

Posted by: Ike | April 11, 2007 12:47 PM

Randy at 12:11: did check out the youtube listing -- thanks. But not edifying. Mark was amusing but really needs to spend his time with the Washington Times or New York Post or the Wall Street Journal's editorial pages, which might suit him better. He's not helpful as a focus group, just as someone who finds the whole paper deplorable. If I were the editor, I would look at that video and think "not my audience. Let him go somewhere else."

Posted by: Lisa | April 11, 2007 01:21 PM

You really should update your commenting software to allow for semi-colons, commas, and other punctuation too. Its very frustrating that it does not support these and often makes people look like uneducated morons.

Posted by: anon | April 11, 2007 01:24 PM

Mr. Brady: hate to say it, but I would throw this baby (redesign) out with the bathwater. It's tedious to navigate and presents far too much junk far too prominently. Why be a paper for people who don't like to read? The Express takes care of that segment. (Do like the previous print edition, easier to get to. May just concentrate on reading that and skip all your online bells and whistles. Would be a shame, though.)

Posted by: Lisa | April 11, 2007 01:25 PM

Ooof. Checked out front page for updates. Hit again with "On Being" which reminds me of a first book for babies: "look at all these different faces. And they're all humans like you. How reassuring." Used to enjoy cruising for news. No longer. Back to NYTimes and LATimes, which are more reader-friendly. The better blogs can tip me off to WaPost content worth reading. The new design is like plowing through advertising circulars and all the junk mail you don't want in search of a crumb or two of news.

Posted by: Lisa | April 11, 2007 01:30 PM

There are a lot of malcontents in this world, let 'em fret, they'll get over it. I appreciate the Washington Post caring enough to try to improve their WEB site, and it is very big of you to invite criticism - unfortunately, some people feel compelled to oblige.
I lost the SUDOKU button for a couple days, but am back to using it again now. I have no criticisms to offer and only one comment.
I've missed the Discussions box, so I couldn't resist looking for it after reading your April 10th update. I had to look around a bit before I found it, because it isn't, as you stated in the update "right under the Opinions box"; I finally found the Discussions button (box?) inside (under?) the News button (box?)!
Keep up the good work, I love it.

Posted by: Dennis | April 11, 2007 01:32 PM

I read just 10 minutes ago an article pertaining to global warming and the world wide concert. now I can't find the article anywhere on your site - where are you hiding it? I continuously am not being able to find news stories that were there and then gone. please bring back the sections.

Posted by: blisme | April 11, 2007 01:38 PM

I'm getting used to the layout changes, but I strongly agree that OnBeing should not be taking up half the screen right at the top. Move it down - people who are interested will be able to find it - and bring back the rotating photos from the day's top news.

Posted by: fed at work | April 11, 2007 01:54 PM

Mr. Brady,
I do know that On Being was rotating in the upper left corner before the redesign, and I found it annoying then too. However, it alone didn't rise to the level of sending you an email. I didn't include it in my email to you about the redesign, because I chose to focus my comments on the discussion situation. However, I agree with the many posters on this blog who believe that it is more appropriate for a below-the-fold placement. It may be a wonderful feature, but it's just not what I'm looking for when I visit the site during the day.

Posted by: Jen | April 11, 2007 02:11 PM

Mr. Brady,
Why does everything seem to take two clicks? I just clicked on "Redskins Schedule Released" and was taken to the Redskins page, where I had to click on "Redskins Schedule Released" again. Can I please be taken directly to the feature/article I've clicked on without an intermediate step? I really don't remember these problems before the switch.

Posted by: Jen | April 11, 2007 02:17 PM

to the person above who's telling you it looks cleaner, that's only because the type is still so small that it seems in some places to be lost on a sea of white background. Mr. Brady, you may have had laser surgery but some of us haven't. I'm sick of the Post. It's time to find another home page.

Posted by: still irked | April 11, 2007 02:24 PM

Please stop putting the "On Being" photo grid on top of the page instead of a news photo. We've seen those four people for weeks and would have clicked through by now if we were interested.

In other words, no fluff on the top, please. You are a world class NEWSpaper--don't hide it.
Thanks.

Posted by: Chevy Chase | April 11, 2007 03:13 PM

The redesign sent me the message that you were going to phase out the live discussions, and while you did that you'd make them nearly impossible to find. Please bring them back to their original prominence, with the schedule visible on the front page without having to click.

Posted by: Chevy Chase | April 11, 2007 03:15 PM

Mr. Brady,

I wonder if you are willing to address the four usability items I posted earlier at 11:50am? I realize calling the designer from the chat pompous may have been alienating, and thus you chose not to, but I would like to hear your comments on the points.

Posted by: John | April 11, 2007 03:45 PM

my main concern is also with the live discussions. and having a link to click through to the full day's schedule doesn't solve the problem. i think many of us enjoyed having the full day's schedule visible without having to click through, so we could choose whether or not we're interested in any of the day's topics, just in the same way we skim the headlines.

any more clicking that is required just makes it more of a hassle and also less attractice and therefore decreases the likeliness i will ever participate in a live discussion that i didn't plan to do ahead of time.

onBeing also bothers me, but in general, the lack of prominence of the photos and images bothers me overall.

these changes make me really appreciate the more user-friendly features of nytimes.com, unfortunately.

Posted by: olivia | April 11, 2007 04:06 PM

also, mr. brady, i am a bit put off by your distinction between feedback on the board and feedback that was e-mailed. emailing also takes extra clicks, and therefore extra time, as you know. and i think the number of clicks it takes to get to a desired place is a very important factor to consider... even more so than visual friendliness and aethesticism, i would say.

you did say you had tested this on focus groups? i'm surprised the same resounding issues here were not brought up then.

Posted by: olivia | April 11, 2007 04:08 PM

Mr. Brady,

Being a non-technicial computer person, I appreciate the informed, detailed and professional comments such as those from Kendrick, Dane and John posted above. And, I would like to see you address them in as much detail and spirit as they offered.

Remember, we love the Post and are both saddened and frustrated to see the Web site associated with such outstanding journalism be reduced to an outlet for ads and multimedia--as I said before--at the expense of news. I, like so many others, do not have time to search for what to read. Breaking news is what news junkies crave. If I can't see it, how do I know I want to read it?

Who, by the way, were the study group participants? I regularly submit to the "your opinion matters" surveys that are e-mailed to me on behalf of the Post. I distinctly recall one about six months ago asking all sorts of questions relating to "lifestyle" issues. I replied that I was not interested in seeing them prominently displayed because those types of articles were NOT what I wanted to see in my Washington Post--my first choice for news since last century!

Posted by: sharon in baltimore | April 11, 2007 04:24 PM

the much-mentioned upper left schedule of chats is NOT there; instead there's a news photo. but the editor's line gets front and center treatment, isn't that kind of passive aggressive? you don't want to provide what it seems like a majority of posters want back, which is an up-front list of chats, but the we can't miss the link to what has become the editor's blog.

Posted by: re: discussions | April 11, 2007 04:44 PM

Don't have time to read comments since this morning right now, but FYI, here's the link I promised yesterday of the old and new home pages side by side.

http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/images/side_by_side.gif

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 11, 2007 05:00 PM

I check the Post online at least four-five times a day, and have for at least the past five years.

I too am changing my homepage to the NYTimes because I am SO SICK of seeing the OnBeing on the top instead of real news photos or real news in sections, the way a newspaper should be. I have never and will never be interested in your multimedia presentations, and I'm disgusted by the huge amount of valuable space they take up in the giant black box on your page.

For what it's worth, I'm a young twenty-something -- exactly the group I suspect you're trying to attract with your atrocious and counter-productive new website.

I suspect all the clicks from OnBeing are because people think "it's clearly the most important thing on the site, based on its position on the page, so it must be good!" But I doubt they go back. It's not worthy of the Post.

Posted by: Twenty-something reader | April 11, 2007 05:02 PM

Boy, you all are a bunch of whiners! The Post has the best news site around, and it's all free. Change takes a while to get used to -- would you have felt better if Mr. Brady sent you a personalized e-mail warning you ahead of time that change was coming? And you're really complaining about the number of clicks it takes you to get somewhere on the site? Really? Pushing your finger down twice instead of once? For the love of....get over it!

Posted by: Arlington, VA | April 11, 2007 05:02 PM

Is anyone else getting that HUGE ad at the top of the page that takes up the entire page? I have to scroll down an entire page just to see the name of this blog.

This is happening on EVERY WaPo page right now, whether I use Safari or Firefox.

That alone is enough to drive me away from the website. Is this the future, or just a glitch?

Posted by: TBG | April 11, 2007 05:36 PM

OK.. seems to have been just a glitch.

Sorry folks; never mind.

Posted by: TBG | April 11, 2007 05:46 PM

I miss the "Politics" section in "More Top Headlines."

I LOVE the Post! I moved from DC 2 years ago to Chicago and only wished they delivered here. I refuse to read any other newspaper but the Post.

Thank you!

Posted by: | April 11, 2007 06:07 PM

I agree with the comment on the Metro headlines: they should be static instead of on ticker. Not only does it make it easier for me to see more headlines, it keeps in line with a national newspaper based out of one city. That city's news should be easy to find.

The reason that the paper looks dumbed down is that there are now two headlines instead of three under the section titles, there is more color and too many pictures in the middle.

The ads, pictures and uneven spacing of items on the page makes it appear more cluttered than before.

Posted by: midanae | April 11, 2007 06:41 PM

A few thoughts in no particular order:

1) Since you obviously didn't want to spend good money on a professional information designer such as Edward Tufte, you should at least see if you can get Kendrick on retainer. Every one of his observations about the flaws in your current design is spot-on.

2) It's good to see that someone from WaPo has finally decided to address the hundreds of comments posted here in the past couple of weeks, but ultimately the bottom line remains: "We have no plans to go back to the old home page."

So may I ask why? Is it because the new design is intended to sacrifice efficiency and usability for more reader click-throughs, and therefore more ad viewings (translation: revenue)? Is it because, as has been rumored, the online WaPo staff is being downsized and you no longer have enough people to handle the more editorial-intensive duties that the old site used real people for while this new "modular" design automates, albeit awkwardly? Or is it just that you really can't admit that maybe you just made a massive error with this mess? When you say, "In our opinion, we did not make a mistake with the new home page," I'm reminded of your editorial page's continuing reluctance to 'fess up to the mistake that WaPo made in supporting the Iraq invasion. Y'all were wrong then, and the prevailing opinion of 90+ percent of the comments here over the past couple of weeks say you're wrong now. Intransigence in the face of overwhelming evidence of error is not a virtue, guys.

3) "Folks can choose to believe or not to believe that we have lots of positive e-mail; we're obviously not going to publish those publicly. People have a right to privacy when they send e-mail." It's entirely possible that you have "lots" of positive email, since you don't bother to quantify what "lots" is. I consider getting twenty non-spam emails a day "lots," after all. And you don't say what percentage of your total e-mails were positive vs. negative. If you could discard the attempts at spin-control for a moment, could you at least give us an objective breakdown, i.e., "nice job" vs. "I hate it"? Also, keep in mind that there are a couple of reasons why emails tend to be more positive than message-board ones, including the writer's desire for privacy which an emailed (vs. posted) comment compromises (my email address is much better known than my "KR20852" moniker here, for example), and the freedom to disregard politeness in favor of frankness when posting vs. emailing a comment (that darn ol' "meanness factor" which some people like to decry here). If you emails were even more negative than the posts you've garnered to this point, then you'd br living in Bizarro World.

4) "But ask yourself this? If we really were getting 100 percent negative feedback on the new home page, would we really not be making more significant changes?" That's a deliberate straw-man argument, and it's dishonest, not to mention disconcerting to see a WaPo editor using Tony Snow's playbook in trying to justify your position here. No one is saying that the reaction has been 100% negative, and you bloody well know it. There is a small minority who likes the new look, but the overwhelming majority DOESN'T. As someone who has an extensive history with publication redesign, I know just as well as you do that changing an established layout will result in a certain percentage of reader defection, and you have to anticipate that. Correctly predicting the tradeoff of lost and disaffected readers against projected increases in advertising revenues is key to any redesign. Your changes were made for purely financial reasons (other than that abominable leading and microscopic type size, which defies any rational explanation), and reader satisfaction comes in a distant second. And since hard news doesn't get nearly as many click-throughs as fluff like "On Being" or "Living Smart," who needs it? I can't BELIEVE that anyone calling himself an editor at the Washington Post would so profoundly insult his readers intelligence by pretty much saying that "Hey, we didn't really think anybody would miss World or Nation or Politics or Metro if we took 'em out." The Washington Post editorial staff doesn't think its readers want NEWS??? This is especially galling in light of your previous blog post where you were crowing about how, well, "smart" y'all were to give all those Living Smart lifestyle fluff pieces such a prominent place in your newshole real estate on the Web equivalent of the Post's Page One.

To sum up, it's plain that the prevailing opinion on this and the previous comment board is flat-out in favor of returning to the old layout, yet "(w)e have no plans to go back to the old home page. Obviously, that won't make many of you happy, but that's the honest answer." Translation: "The readers be damned." So much for any pretense of responsiveness on the part of WaPo. (And you wonder at the hostile tone of so many of the posters here?)

Posted by: KR20852 | April 11, 2007 07:00 PM

I want to sympathize with what I presume are efforts to reach hip, younger non-readers, but I can't.
This page (which has been my homepage for a long time) looks & feels now like Yahoo-on-Steroids meets Entertainment Everyday!
Too busy, with too little of value in 2/3 not devoted to ads and too much difficulty finding it. Why all the emphasis on "most read" or "most emailed" -- is that the most vital news/information you've got to share?

For a long while I have been frustrated by weirdnesses of WP search function: now I'll hardly know what to search for amidst all the colorful clutter.

Posted by: | April 11, 2007 07:20 PM

I see what you mean about the side-by-side comparison when taken as a whole -- it looks like comparable amounts of information are on both -- but I'm sure I didn't have to do nearly as much scrolling on the old page. When I open the new page on either my work (IE) or home (Safari) computer, I see 2, maybe 3 headlines, tops. It seems a lot sparser. As someone noted, many of us are multitasking, bringing the WaPo screen to the front for a quick glance while we're editing documents, doing internet research, working on spreadsheets or powerpoints, etc. We're not going to do a lot of scrolling or clicking.

That being said, I do appreciate that you've added back in a lot of subsidiary, related links, returning some depth to the coverage. And the top stories aren't fluff. Plus, this afternoon the huge On Being block has apparently been yanked, in favor of a smaller photo that is related to other stories, as on the old page, which I hope is in response to our comments. (I suppose we'll see tomorrow.) All good signs.

Posted by: jane | April 11, 2007 07:55 PM

On a lighter note (though maybe not for Mr. Brady), Wonkette has nailed our frustration, twice:

On "On Being"-
http://wonkette.com/politics/youtube/washington-post-gives-up-becomes-video-blog-251487.php

And on the initial response (then non-response, until yesterday) to the complaints:
http://wonkette.com/politics/washington-post/wapocom-____-you-you-love-the-redesign-249048.php
[Edited so my post won't be deleted -- fill in the obvious 4-letter word to make the link work.]

Posted by: jane | April 11, 2007 07:59 PM

Like many other readers, I would like to have a list of all the day's chats on the home page, without the need for exta clicks. This seemed to be simple enough to accomplish on the old home page. Why can this not be done now?

Posted by: Bring Back Chat Lists | April 11, 2007 08:36 PM

I probably have been pulling up the Post several times a day while multi-tasking at work for 5 or 6 years always sure I'll catch the lastest news ... national, world, and metro. Now I'm just lost. Don't like it at all. Always seems to be stuff I'm not interested in. I don't think you spent much time learning who your readers are.

Posted by: Walt761 | April 11, 2007 08:45 PM

it use to be that I would turn to this web page to catch all the latest news - not anymore as nothing is findable. important stories that are posted for a few minutes are not there later on and are IMPOSSIBLE to locate. for example there was a story this morning about the world wide global warming concerts and how the republicans refused to allow it on the steps of the capital because global warming is a "political issue". we all know that point of view to be incorrect but where have you hidden the story? I later wanted to send that story to a friend but it is totally impossible to find. I have checked all of your "news" sections and performed a search - the new homepage needs to be fixed and made more accessible for your readers.

Posted by: blisme | April 11, 2007 08:45 PM

I hesitate to write because it appears that WP.com doesn't seem to care what their readers think but, and I might be repeating posters above, I find it very telling that WP would devote three headlines to ENTERTAINMENT and two to REAL NEWS. Fluff is NOT news! And what happened to the links to international news? I know sites like these rely on clicks and I know they've had less clicks from me.

Posted by: Jon Luhman | April 11, 2007 10:40 PM

I've posted earlier about how I appreciate the redesign, but with the caveat that I usually spend several minutes on the homepage at a time, which allows me to scroll around and find things I like.

I wanted to add a few more points to my earlier post. First, I also am not a huge fan of the 'OnBeing' feature. I enjoy some of your other features - like 'OnFaith' and 'PostGlobal' - but have never been interested in the least in 'OnBeing'. Second, I've enjoyed the higher quality video and image galleries you've developed to accompany articles. Firefox often couldn't render galleries correctly - especially on Linux - but your new ones display just fine. Third, I'm not a paying subscriber of The Post and am happy to say that I enjoy the coverage and journalism provided by this free site. If I had to pay for it, I might be more critical and pointed in my remarks. But since I'm able to regularly peruse all of this work at no cost to me, I'll gladly work with this redesign and continue using washingtonpost.com as my homepage.

Posted by: PK | April 11, 2007 11:48 PM

You do not seem to care for your readers opnions and you claim that the positive feedback is more than the negative one. Well here is a challenge, instead of this blog, why do not you conduct a simple poll on the washingtonpost.com web site that asks the readers if they want the old format. The choices should be YES or NO. I bet that more than 80% will vote that they want the old format. This will make it easy on you becasue it seems you can not decipher what the readers want. Another bet: This web site format will change in less than 3 months, there is no way it can survive under this format.

Posted by: Try This | April 12, 2007 03:23 AM

Please could you make the sunday magazine easier to locate? I like to read it, but at first thought you had discontinued it. Could it have a link someplace obvious? This sunday i found it, finally, but only by first clicking on print edition, and that was cryptically located, too. Thank you.
Peggy Merrill

Posted by: Peggy Merrill | April 12, 2007 06:46 AM

Dear Mr. Brady:

Thank you very much for the update. I was one of those who complained about the World/Politics/Nation headlines being removed from the More Top Stories area (just doesn't make sense to me for a news site to hide the news). I appreciate the fact that the Post is so responsive to input and that the headlines will be restored to their old location.

The older I get, the more I hate change. I used to enjoy change for its own sake, but now that I've passed the age of 50, that is no longer true.

Posted by: | April 12, 2007 08:01 AM

"If you haven't seen it, there's a Discussions box on the upper left side of the home page, right under the Opinions box."

This is not so, at least on my computer. The Discussions box is nowhere to be found.

Posted by: Jim Baglins | April 12, 2007 08:22 AM

How about a "listen live" button at the top of the homepage so that we can easily stream Washington Post Radio?

Posted by: Mr. Tony Fan | April 12, 2007 08:52 AM

Mr. Brady, I would cheerfully pay the $.35/day to get the old homepage back. It used to glance at the homepage several times throughout the day. It used to be my homepage, in fact. Now, I look once, and only before bracing myself for a lot of hairpulling. And scrolling. And popups to get to information that used to be easily accessible. And all the fluff. Please get rid of the fluff!

I don't think you're going to make any real changes, so I'll be visiting nytimes.com and latimes.com for my news from now on.

Posted by: Saying goodbye | April 12, 2007 09:21 AM

Congratulations on the best news site on the web. Your willingness to listen to readers and invite comments points to an openness that should serve you well.

Posted by: Rob Levine | April 12, 2007 09:31 AM

Wow, it looks like the family members have been called in to post praise.

Posted by: John | April 12, 2007 09:48 AM

I understand the confusion about where the disucssion have gone. Let me see if I can help.

On the main page there is a large photo on the left side, just under the navigation bar. (Currently it's Kurt Vonnegut.) Under that is the Opinions section. It's currently featuring George Will's column and picture and several other columns are listed. Scroll just below that and you'll find the Discussions section. If you want to see all of today's disucssions click the "Schedule" link to the right of the Discussions heading.

I believe some users are expecting the discussions to appear under the Opinions tab in the navigation bar, but they're acutally under the Opinions section.

I too miss the old list of discussions.

Posted by: Jen | April 12, 2007 09:59 AM

Mr. Brady, thanks for listening to the comments. I think being able to get a pop-up of the discussions (as with the blogs) is a good compromise so we don't have to navigate off the main page, so hopefully this change will be introduced soon!

Posted by: KAL | April 12, 2007 10:21 AM

I see that a list of Metro headlines has now been added, using the same "fading-in-and-out" gimmick used for "Today's Editorials" on the Opinions page. Please understand that having static text (even if it's in a pop out box) is MUCH easier on your readers and increases the usability of the site.

If you have not done so recently, I challenge you to read all of the editorials listed in the "Today's Editorials" section on the Opinions page. First, you will have to wait for all of the titles to cycle through so you can see the full list of posted editorials. Then, after you read the first editorial, you will have to wait again as the list of titles cycles through and another title appears; you will then have to repeat that process after you read each of the editorials until you finally get to the end of the list.

Please do reconsider the use of this format. It seems to present no advantage (other than a "gee whiz" factor) at the cost of annoying readers and making the site more difficult to read.

On other issues.... I very much appreciate that the photo in the upper left is now associated with a "real" news story -- I hope that will continue! This increases the amount of news accessible to the reader without scrolling (which is great for those of us doing quick check-ins on the site!).

Both aesthetically and in terms of readibility, I dislike the font used in the descriptive text below the major headlines. Aesthetically the issue is that the font is different from all of the text used elsewhere on the page (Times Roman vs. Helvetica?). This is somewhat jarring and looks like a mistake. In terms of readability, the extra space between text lines, coupled with the lighter typeface, makes the text more difficult to read (for me, it's actually easier to read the smaller, but bolder text that is used elsewhere on the page).

For readers still looking for the "Discussions" box.... It's a bit of a misstatement to say that it appears on the upper left of the page (unless, perhaps, you are working on a very large monitor and so see much more of the page than most of us do), but you will find it in the lefthand column by scrolling down below the "Opinions/PostGlobal & On Faith" box, which is just below the photo. You won't find the daily schedule in the box, but until the promised pop out box is added, you can find the daily schedule by clicking on the title of the box (i.e., "Discussions"). Or you can go to the top of the page, click on the "News" button in the menu bar, and then click on the link to Discussions, which appears in the 4th column of the dropdown menu.

Posted by: Andrea | April 12, 2007 10:25 AM

A most emailed page would be very helpful and I like the idea of adding a one-sentence summary; a previous poster is right in that the headlines are often vague. Overall, I really like the new front page. It is much, much easier to read.

Posted by: Sarah | April 12, 2007 10:31 AM

Wow, I was cleaning my mail up and forund this March Alertbox from Jacob Nielsen which is quite on point Mr. Brady...

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/annoyances.html

"Does User Annoyance Matter?"

Posted by: John | April 12, 2007 10:42 AM

Try This, I'll take your bet. In three months, the home page will be the one you're looking at today.

I think one mistake folks are making is that they are assuming that the only people who have opinions on the redesign are posting comments here. It's just not true. We get feedback via e-mail, calls to customer care and other methods. We've studied all the feedback we've received, and it's been far more balanced that what's being expressed here. That's not to say you shouldn't speak your mind about the redesign if you don't like it (and, obviously, many of you don't), but it's a mistake to assume this is the only feedback we're seeing.

We are committed to this new home page, and won't be changing back. We will continue to address overarching problems like discussions, the loss of the headlines, and other items raised here, in e-mail and via phone, but going back to the old home page is not an option.

Jen, thanks for clearing up the confusion on Discussions. When I said, discussions were under the Opinions box on the top of the page, I can see why people thought I meant the global navigation. I meant that there's a promotional box for Discussions under the Opinions promotions in our top news table. We did remove the Discussions button in the global navigation, and I asked in this thread a few days ago whether people missed that link atop the page. Apparently, the answer is yes, so we will look at restoring that.

Peggy, the Post Magazine can always be found under the "News" menu in the navigation across the top of the screen.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 12, 2007 10:58 AM

I thought I would see if my irritation level persisted before I posted a comment. Well, it has. Why can't we return to having a list of all the day's chats on the home page, without the need to view extra screens? It made it so much easier to know what discussions to check out during the day. Now when you click on the Schedule link, it may or may NOT take you to the day's schedule, which also requires further scrolling.

Posted by: MKA | April 12, 2007 11:07 AM

MKA, we are putting a flyout up soon (maybe even today) which will have the full discussion sked. See my original post, which also lists some other tweaks. Thanks.

Posted by: Jim B rady | April 12, 2007 11:28 AM

As long as you continue to combine "PostGlobal" with another section reserved for religious superstition, labelled "On Faith", I will not visit it, nor will I take it seriously.

Posted by: onlineid | April 12, 2007 11:50 AM

Have you tried looking at the page through Firefox? I don't know how it works through IE, but the menu mouse-overs at the top are horrible through Firefox. You mouse over a topic, say "city guide," and then look at the options. The first column is partially with a background but not fully back-dropped. The other columns to the right have no backdrop at all and the blue text blends into the rest of the text on the page. In "Art & Living" at least the first three columns on the left are covered, but the columns to the right are not backdropped. Something as basic as this is unconscionable for a website development team.

Posted by: Robert | April 12, 2007 12:12 PM

Jim Brady says "We are committed to this new home page, and won't be changing back."

I remember Coke saying that when they changed their formula. After the complaints kept rolling in, they had to bring back the old formula as Classic Coke, and eventually the new formula went away. I wouldn't be surprised if WaPo eventually introduces the old home page as the "Classic" home page, and then decides what to do based on which one gets more hits. My guess is that if both were available, the classic one would win easily, as it was so much easier to use. The new home page is awful. Sorry, there's no other way to put it.

Al

Posted by: Al | April 12, 2007 12:19 PM

I'd like to expand on one of Kendrick's comments. He mentioned that the Metro section covers over 8 million people. Being a native Washingtonian who has relocated to Pittsburgh, PA, I would suggest that local hometown coverage is appreciated even by those who live up to 5 hours away! I really enjoyed the METRO headlines on the US/World version of the home page. It was the perfect amount of detail without being overwhelmed by the blow-by-blow of high school sports, the Going-Out Gurus, and Traffic. Please consider putting METRO back there as well.

Thanks!

Posted by: Rebecca in Pittsburgh | April 12, 2007 01:15 PM

You are willing to take my 3 month bet but you do not want to implement a simple YES/NO poll to see if readers like the web site, can you explain why?

you talk about "other methods" that you conduct that assure you that the new web site is better, can you share with us these "other methods"?

Personally I do not believe that the emails, surveys and other methods support you new site, and I BET you again to reveal numbers in detail

Posted by: Try This | April 12, 2007 02:17 PM

Please, please, please restore the full overview of discussions to the homepage. The site has lost much of its dynamism without them. And cut back on the fluff (On Being, etc).

Thanks,

JD

Posted by: JD | April 12, 2007 02:48 PM

I've tried posting 3 times on the Green Zone bombing this morning, but my posts are not appearing. What gives?

Posted by: LB | April 12, 2007 02:53 PM

Dear Mr. Brady:

First, a compliment for the grace you've exhibited in fielding so many comments. If only our elected officials would be so kind.

I took a look at your side-by-side comparison; thanks for posting it. But I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the average visitor to washingtonpost.com won't see the entire length of the front page as has been displayed here (unless they have a humungous monitor with the resolution cranked to the sky). Maybe that's part of what concerns me about the change from the old format to the new format - the visual presentation gives me the feeling that there's less choices, less news, and that the web site is taking on a more "lite" (not a compliment the way I'm using it) feel. I guess more white space for me has translated into "less news". While I realize that's not the reality (as you have many more other jump pages from the front page, of course) that's the perception for me, and it's going to take time for me to get comfy with the new look.

I suppose I'd just echo what some other readers have commented - that we are deeply concerned (dare I say it, "afraid"?) and absolutely don't want to see washingtonpost.com turn into a "McPaper"-style venture like usatoday.com. Folks are passionate because they LOVE your paper, and that includes me.

Please keep us posted.

Cheers.

Posted by: wpreader2007 | April 12, 2007 03:15 PM

You should balance the *most* selection by adjusting for things like the page where the stories reside. For example, ANYTHING that links to the top half of the first page is going to do much better than any other article. So instead of just listing hot articles as those that receive the most raw clicks, list thost that do well handicapped for their position on the web site. Since most people will not understand how the articles have their scores adjusted, just explain it generally, but not technically. Readers just need to know that the selected stories are hot because they are outperforming their page locations, not because broadcast and cable are pushing the news topic.

Posted by: Ralph | April 12, 2007 03:23 PM

Having reviewed the site, here are my comments.

I generally read the news during my workday, between work tasks and for a block of 20 mins or so at lunch. I'm 33, male. Web designer and was a journalist in college. Recent transplant out of DC and used to live in NY. Previously did not prefer NYT.com to WaPo.com but it I do now wider margin now.

Discussions
- You asked if anyone used the Discussions tab that used to be on the same level as the current Opinions/Local/Sports at top of page. I did, and I loved the fact that all I had to do was mouse-over and I would see the chats of the day. I was a little frustrated that it had a limit on the number of chats it would list, but it usually sufficed. I understand that except for that navigation element, Discussions is now moved "higher" in the page, but for a feature that makes WaPo.com a *standout* website, it needs more prominent play. Yes the Discussions block is somewhat high on the page, but it is in neutral tone and is easily missed. If there is anything worth charging money for, it's the discussions section, because it REALLY makes you unique. It's GREAT content ALWAYS interesting and deserves major play. As in, when I go to WaPo.com I should really be drawn into what discussions you're having today. Gosh I really did love that I could get the info at the top as well as at a glance a list of current/canceled/archived chats of the day - even if it was a little odd how it would "change over" to the next day before an appropriate time like midnight.
- A nit - when you click on the Schedule link, it doesn't drop you down to the current day's schedule - it takes you to Monday regardless of what day it is. It looks like a bug - "#thurs" is in the address bar but is not in the html, so it just keeps you at the top of the page.

Video/Multimedia Bar
A feature that gets exactly that play is the dark background video bar. It stands out like a sore thumb though it has no notation at the top of it telling you what it is. It contains interesting material I suppose, but nothing I want to click on while I'm sneaking in a few minutes of web browsing at work, and therefore I never look at it. I try to ignore it, but it still catches my eye and distracts me from something I'm more interested in seeeing. The distinction isn't clear as to whether I'm about to see a video or pictures or what, and I find that somewhat annoying.

Firefox
Really need to make sure this site works well in Firefox. Firefox has 15% marketshare.

Local News Scroll
It was frustrating at first to try to click on a news story only to watch it fade away. Maybe it can stop fading while I am hovering? I think that Local News should definitely get more than a single scrolling headline worth of play. especially if I'm viewiing the "local" version. If anything there should be *more* local stories shown (e.g. 4-5) when I'm on the local version, and they should be "above the fold".

Main pages
There should be better visual consistency among "top-level" pages. For example, Nation, World, Technology all have dark blue left side navigation with sub-head navigation. I really like this. But within that navigation you can click on pages such as Real Estate, Style, and Politics which do NOT have that same navigation, forcing you to hit the back button just to bring back the navigation you were using. This is not a strong design feature, as you should be able to keep the same browsing method through the sections listed within that method. Those three pages (real estate/style/politics) all look different visually - Style takes you to the 'Print Only' navigation which is very strange since that isn't where you came from but has a similar layout. All three seem to really wont for the dark blue background navigation.

Most Viewed
I LOVE NYT's most-viewed. I would even go so far as to say it is my preferred means of browsing their newspaper. I think I like it because it is prominent, large print, easy to find (not obscured by ads to its right) and at the top of the sections so I can easily glance at dozens of other stories while I browse the most viewed. I just checked - when I make 'Most Viewed' the top-right part of my page, I can see 46 different articles right now, no videos, and no ads. Maybe that's NYT's problem that they gave me a great way to read the top content of their paper without ads! But the typesize and good use of whitespace around that box is really key to making it a strong visual.

Columns and Blogs
I liked having the list of all of the columns and blogs on the old style of the paper, but I did think it got a little cluttered. That said, I definitely do not read On Balance or On Parenting *nearly* as often as I used to, because the blog entries are always enticing as I am a new dad, but now that I have to click a + sign to see them, I often don't do so.

Sports Re-Ordering
Didn't the old style page used to re-order the sports sub-headings to make the current season more prominent and add in links for current events like playoffs or Olympics? It looks like that isn't going to happen now as MLB is the last entry and Redskins is the first. That is too bad, I thought that was a nice touch.

Markets
I should be able to customize the listing of stocks to show 'my portfolio'. Right now that link goes to the old school 'mywashingtonpost' page.

Visited Links
It is very important to let your users see which links they have visited. I know youy addressed this already but I wholeheartedly agree you should definitely drop the style that keeps visited links blue. Just read a great blog entry today on a new book that discusses the top issues with web usability, you should check it out. http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000836.html

I think that's enough for now!!
Thanks for hearing us out.

Posted by: Matt | April 12, 2007 04:36 PM

Hey again if you guys want to know how your paper is perceived watch this video which has been viewed now 4,800 times on Youtube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT2MKqrsWeY It should be required viewing for everyone in the newsroom. It is the best focus group research that you can get on your paper.

Posted by: A Washingtonian | April 12, 2007 05:26 PM

911 was a movie
on a day in September
where people were working
and they called 911
to other people who were working
and then we went to the WAR KING

Posted by: tami weathers | April 12, 2007 07:02 PM

Jim Brady says: "I think one mistake folks are making is that they are assuming that the only people who have opinions on the redesign are posting comments here. It's just not true. We get feedback via e-mail, calls to customer care and other methods. We've studied all the feedback we've received, and it's been far more balanced that what's being expressed here."

But you still haven't addressed the question that many folks have asked, namely, what the overall percentage of nays vs. yeas in that feedback? After all, an offline response of 80% thumbs-down vs. 20% thumbs-up (or even 75-25 or 70-30) is "far more balanced" than the 95% negative vs. 5% positive on this board, but it's still an overwhelming vote of no confidence. Either post the actual stats or stop trying to spin those responses as anything other than an overall rejection of the new site. At this point it appears obvious that your offboard responses, while "more balanced," aren't running in your favor or you would have said so by now. Please don't act like we're stupid enough to overlook that glaring omission.

"We are committed to this new home page, and won't be changing back. We will continue to address overarching problems like discussions, the loss of the headlines, and other items raised here, in e-mail and via phone, but going back to the old home page is not an option."

And as I asked earlier, why is that? Is it because the new design deliberately scuttles efficiency and usability in order to generate more reader click-throughs, and therefore more ad viewings (translation: revenue)? Is it because, as has been rumored, the online WaPo staff is being downsized and you no longer have enough people to handle the more editorial-intensive duties that the old site used real people for while this new "modular" design automates, albeit awkwardly? Or is it just that you really can't admit that maybe you just made a massive error with this mess?

Here's a little story for you: A few years ago my online broker, Ameritrade, redesigned their Web site completely, but gave customers the option to continue to go to the previous site with just one click. The older site was preferable in many ways for a lot of us, and even now, long after their merger with TD Waterhouse, that option still exists, and I still use it every single time I go to the site. That's a major reason why they still get my business, which has increased tenfold since I first opened an account with them in 2000. (Which was just about the same time I started my daily sojourns to washingtonpost.com, interestingly enough.) The WaPo should take a page from their book and at least let readers choose which homepage they prefer to use.

I dumped my print subscription to Newsweek (another WaPoCo publication) about a year ago in favor of The Economist because the former was putting more and more of its focus on "soft" news like college rankings and lifestyle trends and similar fluff. The Economist, by comparison, still remembers what a former editor of mine told me a long while ago: An editor's primary duty is to tell readers what they NEED to know, not just what they WANT to know. That's something I fear the Post's editors have forgotten as well, judging by the dropping of the World and Nation and Politics and Metro section headings and reducing the featured stories under the remaining headings from three each to just two. Those two changes alone mark this redesign as a total failure. Unless, that is, you intend to start calling yourselves a fluffpaper instead of a newspaper. At least that would be refreshingly honest.

Posted by: KR20852 | April 12, 2007 07:15 PM

While I appreciate you are following up on the criticisms, as a web usability professional and a user of the site, I am still not pleased with the Metro "ticker".

While I understand it allows you to put more headlines on the front page in theory, in reality it doesn't work that way. It's simply a lot of time and technical effort that was wasted by trying to look slick. Sometimes simple is best.

Putting a more static "Metro" section under More Top Stories is more efficient. Readers can scan the headlines at their own speed, not one you dictate. You could easily remove "Arts & Living" from that section and put in "Metro", considering the weight you've given to Arts & Living topics on the home page now.

Please put Metro back. And ENLARGE that font. It is still entirely too small for comfort.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 12, 2007 08:14 PM

Mr. Brady,

You're rightfully being taken to task over this. In the chat about the changes, you refused to listen, but to put forth your own ideas.

The overall redesign isn't bad. But you've taken away the list of chats for the day. Making it a similar app as the blogs won't help. I don't come to the Post's website for the chats, I come to check up on information around the world, and then one of the chats catches my eye and I'll hang around (which, I believe is what you'd like me to say, and that you could repeat to advertisers), but I'm telling you that I won't click something to tell me more info, because I'm not directly looking for it.

Please try to understand instead of acting like the IT monkees I work with, and just try to ram your idea down our throats.

Posted by: Kim | April 12, 2007 11:39 PM

As I posted in the previous comment blog, it took me four days after the new design was unveiled, but here is more help with finding discussions:

In the faint blue box halfway down on the left hand side where you see the headings DISCUSSIONS, Schedules and Transcripts, if you click directly on DISCUSSIONS (instead of Schedules) you will be taken to a page listing today's chats in real time. It also lists previous chats and the list of transcripts to read or print. It is exactly what we used to see on the front page.

Posted by: sharon in baltimore | April 13, 2007 09:48 AM

Alas, I think you're more cluttered now, not less.

For the first time in about two years, I find myself each morning going to the online version of the printed paper to get a solid, uncluttered fix on what Post editors consider the important news. A single page load gives me every story headline on the printed paper's front page, plus the lede for each story. Ditto the rest of the paper.

Posted by: | April 13, 2007 09:53 AM

I'm still trying to divine the efficacy of this over the old page. What have I gained from this new page? I still think it sucks.

Posted by: Stick | April 13, 2007 09:56 AM

Hi Mr. Brady,

I appreciate that you're chiming in and responding to some of the readers' concerns; I'm also pleased that you've added a bit more hard news content (these are very positive moves). My complaint is one that others no doubt have, but which should be very easy to address.

I come to the WAPO to find news, particularly World and National news, and I loved the old web page because it was so easy to find such stories, and they were categorized so logically (e.g., under World News one could review articles relevant to the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, etc.)

The new web page (especially since you've begun to respond to readers) provides a mix of World and National stories, both as stand-alone stories above the fold, and under the "more headlines" heading. Below the fold one can find groups of articles relevant to "business," "technology," "health," etc. However, NOWHERE on the home page can you find similar groupings of articles devoted specifically to World (and regional) or National news. This is a very serious problem for me and I suspect for many others.

Currently, your web site still retains pages devoted to World or National politics, but they're hidden -- literally -- in a place where those searching for them are LEAST likely to look. For some reason we first have to go to the "Local" page (via the bank of dark blue buttons at the top of the page), and then from the Local page we get access to World and National news pages. Besides taking more time to locate, this placement is very counter-intuitive, especially for out-of-state readers like me (indeed, it was only today that I stumbled [literally] upon these pages, after trying to find articles on Latin America for the last 9 days). Could you please address this problem soon so that it's easier to find World and National news pages? Perhaps the easiest solution might simply be to put a link to World and National News articles in the top set of buttons (dark blue) along with the other buttons you have their for Opinions, Sports, Arts & Living, etc.

Thanks,
Mark

Posted by: Mark | April 13, 2007 10:30 AM

I like the old homepage better. More importantly, you have to have a homepage link to the metro section - why has that been removed?!? Although the paper is read across the country (and perhaps world), it is still a local/regional audience that it must cater to!

Posted by: Zo | April 13, 2007 11:17 AM

My gripe is that the 'Opinion' and 'Post Global & Faith' tabs alternate on the left-middle of the page. I for one do not find Post Global & Faith content interesting or of equal importance to the Opinion tab. This change is not welcome - at least to this reader.

Posted by: km | April 13, 2007 11:17 AM

I'd be remiss if I did not mention that I LOVE the fact that readers can post comments to articles. Don't remove that please, it's a wonderful feature. I don't think anyone else in the industry is doing that - great job on that front.

Posted by: Zo | April 13, 2007 11:23 AM

I wish that you would get rid of the"Sneek Peak" box on the discussion page.

It's really annoying when you are looking at a page to have constantly changing text distracting you from what you're trying to read.

Do you really think that your readers are so dopey that they can't judge whether or not they want to read a particular chat without having random extracts of it flashed at them?

Posted by: burke | April 13, 2007 12:25 PM

So after al the brew ha ha yesterday over the "On Being" section seeming to be the main focus of the home page, today we get some video and story from the living section, about religion??? Come on is the WaPo going out of their way o try to attract the soap opera watching crowed, over people who trying to read actual news. Just one more news organization lost to the idea of "Newsertainment".

Posted by: Starcrunch | April 13, 2007 12:29 PM

Why can't I more easily switch between the US and Washington home pages? When I click on "Switch to Washington home page" it takes me to a screen to edit my profile. I don't want to change my homepage -- just view the local news.

Posted by: minniwanca | April 13, 2007 01:11 PM

How about adding the current temperature somewhere on the homepage?

Thanks-

Posted by: Sunny | April 13, 2007 01:16 PM

Mr Brady said: "Someone asked where the print edition is. It's right where it was before, but it's now called "Today's Paper" instead of "Print Edition.""

Did you do any card sorting on this? Seems like a not very intuitive label. Why should a user distinguish the online version as not today's paper?

I'm curious what the usability testing regimen was for the new design.

Posted by: Lisa | April 13, 2007 04:27 PM

I am thrilled to hear that you will be reinstating the 'Politics' and 'Nation' top stories sections on the front page. I felt completely lost without them, as those are the two types of news that I value the most on the Post website.

Thank you so much for taking our concerns seriously!

Posted by: CBS | April 13, 2007 04:50 PM

FYI, the Nation/World/Politics headlines are now back in the More Top Stories area of the page.

Haven't had time to digest all the comments posted since yesterday, but did see one from Try Thus that is easy to answer. He asked why we don't just run poll on old home page vs. new home page on the site. A simple yes/no poll isn't scientifically valuable; it's subject to technical manipulation and organized campaigns. Focus groups, reader testing and traffic analysis is more scientficially valuable, and we did all of those things in the process of launching this page.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 13, 2007 04:51 PM

I am thrilled to hear that you will be reinstating the 'Politics' and 'Nation' top stories sections on the front page. I felt completely lost without them, as those are the two types of news that I value the most on the Post website.

Thank you so much for taking our concerns seriously!

Posted by: CBS | April 13, 2007 04:51 PM

I am thrilled to hear that you will be reinstating the 'Politics' and 'Nation' top stories sections on the front page. I felt completely lost without them, as those are the two types of news that I value the most on the Post website.

Thank you so much for taking our concerns seriously!

Posted by: CBS | April 13, 2007 04:51 PM

I am curious about why the top story doesn't correspond with the lead image. I realize you probably want to tease your feature articles there, but I would love for a hard news image...and tease the feature articles under the metro, arts, or entertainment sections further down the page. I come to the site looking for the hard news of what's going on in washington, and I can't see it all on one screen without scrolling now. It's frustrating because the old site had many more headlines 'above the fold' and now i have to scroll significantly down the page to find the blocks of 3 or 4 headlines. At work during the day, I rarely have time to have to hunt to find the headlines. I just want to glance quickly at what's news and then continue on with my work....

Posted by: Online News Junkie | April 13, 2007 05:04 PM

Since email seems to be getting more attention, I provided an email message... but since I don't know who if anyone would read it, I'm also posting a copy here.

Dear Mr. Brady --

I'm one of the people who feel as though you've dumbed down the website, and I'll try to explain why.

I think the website attracts a high percentage of news junkies and policy wonks; probably a much higher percentage of those than any other website anywhere. I've had the paper delivered since I first came here in 1983. It's a fantastic newspaper. Straight news, analysis, features, and three whole pages of comics. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. While I was looking for a job, I read every single article in the paper every day, and after I had a job, remembering something I'd read helped my company win a large contract. Aside from that, it's the newspaper of record and contains in-depth information about politics that no other paper in the world has.

I discovered the website about 10 years ago, and it rapidly became one of my home pages (I have multiple computers and browsers with different home pages). It also became my break destination and my lunchtime reading, as well as my standard place to go if I had two minutes before a meeting. And remember, I've already read the printed version at home before going to work. I like to know what's happening and where, and whether there have been any changes since this morning. I don't look at pictures or video; I have neither the time nor the interest. I know what people look like, and I read a lot faster than people talk, so if I want to know precisely what was said I can read a transcript. In any event, your reporters are excellent, and their summation in news articles or analysis is much more valuable to me.

The front page now has fewer links to real news, making it more difficult to find out what's going on. I'm not going to click around to see if maybe I can FIND something interesting to read; if I don't see something on the front page, I assume there have been no updates and move along. As for the video content and "Smart Living" -- well, imagine for a minute that you're a PhD candidate and your subject is Russian literature in translation. You've spent 3 months studying "War And Peace", first in the original Russian, and then two different translations. You've studied the themes, the language issues, the semantic implications of translation word choices, how the rhythm of the words changes in different languages, how the history and technology of the times influenced both the original and the translations, among other things. And you've loved it. This is your subject, and it can't get too arcane for you. Then you get to your seminar one day, and discover that the professor has been in an accident, and they've brought in someone new to finish the semester. And the new professor announces that the next book you'll study will be "The Cat In The Hat". It will be a lot better, says the new professor. It's easier to read! It has fewer words! There's more white space! And best of all, there's PICTURES! And you're dumbfounded, because you're not at all interested in fewer words or more white space or pictures. It's a graduate seminar, not a freshman survey course. If you weren't interested in the difficult ideas, you'd be somewhere else making a lot more money than you do as a graduate student.

THAT is how we feel.

The analogy isn't exact, but you've taken away a lot of what made the website special for news junkies and policy wonks, which was the ability to scan the hard news headlines in a glance. You've removed those from the "More Top Stories" section (they're not top story subjects any more?) and cut by one-third the number of headlines in the remaining sections, which you've moved so they're more difficult to get to. And the stories there never seem to change. We're getting LESS news. I won't look at videos; I have no need to see talking heads saying things I can read more quickly, but more importantly, I'm at work. I'm not going to bother the rest of the people here with noise from my computer. I have to believe you when you say the news is being updated as often as ever, but I also have to tell you it doesn't seem that way to a long-time reader. The things you're emphasizing -- soft news and pictures -- are the things I really don't care about and will never look at. I read the Style section in the morning. I love the Style section. But it doesn't have stories that require updates throughout the day.

Additionally, it's much more difficult to get to the things that are now hidden. I have to click around to find them. The bar at the top of the page is more prominent, but have you looked at the size of the type that pops up when you click on the sections? You said you wanted to make it easier for people with low vision to use the site -- my eyesight is excellent, and my motor skills are excellent, and I STILL have trouble finding and clicking on what I want when confronted with the itsy-bitsy font. And I get irritated when what used to be easy to find is now hidden and I'm expected to think video and pictures -- which use more bandwidth and contain less information -- are a great idea. And please, don't make me click to get a pop-up list of discussions. Just show them to me.

One person's cluttered site is another's treasure trove of information. I never thought the site was cluttered. I thought it was the best site on the web, bar none. It now has less news, and what there is is more difficult to get to.

Who are you trying to attract with the redesign? Is it more important to you to attract whoever these new viewers are than to keep your long-time devoted users? I'm not being sarcastic, that's an actual question that I hope you'll answer; it might help me figure out why you think the new design is better than the old one. I think DC is different from the rest of the country in that we're far more news and policy oriented. What might be ideal in a different part of the country is not sufficient for DC.

Just to let you know -- I would pay to subscribe to the old version of the website. That's how much I valued it. If that becomes an option, I'll be one of the first to sign up. But this new version contains less of what I want, in a format I can't use, and makes it more difficult to get to the things that made the previous design so great. Also, since you have a national and a local front page, why not a news junkie front page? You don't even have to design a new one; the old one is exactly what we want. Or perhaps you can change from having a national page and a local page to having a detailed and a streamlined page.

Thank you for your time.

Posted by: DLL | April 13, 2007 05:08 PM

Can we just go back to the old homepage?


Really the old adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.


The bottom line truth is the old homepage was better, sorry because it appears you put a great deal of thought into all these little things on the page. However, the old page was better. Done.

Posted by: miata7 | April 13, 2007 08:34 PM

I agree the YES/NO poll is not scientific, but that was a quick response to your unpublished reports that you claim support the new web site. This is your business and you have the right to do whatever you want. You do not even have to tell us why you changed your front page. What I find strange is that most of the comments in this blog indicate they want the old page and yet you claim that you have other data to support your new design. I am willing to go with the majority but from all what I see from this blog is that the majority wants the old site. I would be more than happy to read your analysis of why the new design is better for the post contrary to what all of us here on the blog say. Like I said this your business, I am just indicating that you do not sound convincing.

Posted by: Try This | April 14, 2007 03:02 AM

Despite your explanation pasted below about discussions, I must have browsed on at least 6 occassions before I discovered the location of discussions on front page. On standard monitors, the Discussion box does not appear to be on the upper left side of the home page; it actually appears far below the fold, the point on the home page above which most people would see without scrolling down. What kind of screen are you viewing this on? Thank you.
"The most common complaint we received was that we've hidden our discussions. Ironically, we've actually moved it higher up on the home page because it's such a popular feature on the site. (If you haven't seen it, there's a Discussions box on the upper left side of the home page, right under the Opinions box)."

Posted by: Mike S | April 14, 2007 03:43 AM

Thanks for restoring the "missing" sections in the "More Top Stories" section. I sent an email to the Post requesting that these sections be restored and I'm gratified that you have done so. I think it's a big step in the right direction.

I can offer two more suggestions that would appeal -- strongly -- to the news junkie in me:

1) Please consider listing three (or more) headlines in the "More Top Stories" sections, rather than the current two. Making this small change would substantially increase the content here while not otherwise affecting the new design at all. It is true that it would lengthen the page, slightly, but I suspect the additional length would be unnoticeable to most of your visitors.

2) If one clicks on a subhead in this section (i.e., "Politics"), one is taken to the main Politics section. However, if one is looking for the latest political headlines, then it's necessary to scroll down that page, find the appropriate link and then click on that. It might make people happy if you added a direct "headlines" link after each of the subheadings in the "More Top Stories" section. For example, "Politics" might become "Politics (Latest)", where clicking on "Politics" would take the reader to the Politics section and clicking on "Latest" would take you directly to the latest headlines for that area.

I agree that you shouldn't go back. But I also believe that you should listen to at least some of the suggestions here. People are passionate about news. If you can find a way to satisfy the news junkies -- who are dreadfully afraid that the WaPo will become just a fluff site -- you'll increase, not decrease, your readership.

Good luck.

Posted by: BLS | April 14, 2007 04:11 AM

One other suggestion: On the Opinions page, the Editorials are listed (slowly) in the fade-in/fade-out mechanism. I'm with those who try to capture as much information as possible in a short time, because of other time constraints. Waiting for a list to rotate is generally just not going to happen.

But you could make one easy change that would have me clicking through to see the Editorials: Simply make the "Today's Editorials" headline clickable, taking the reader directly to the "Print Edition / Editorial Pages" page. That would let people who want to watch the "ticker" do so while also allowing those of us who want to get directly to the editorial page and see the whole list.

Brian

Posted by: BLS | April 14, 2007 04:26 AM

Mr. Brady:

Thanks for taking the time to reply to reader comments, and for making some small changes to the new format - they really do make a difference.

However, I find myself quite puzzled by your contention that the new homepage has the same amount of news content as the old page. It is clear from the comments that folks here are talking about "hard news" content - not religion, arts, entertainment, lifestyle, etc. - and by that measure, the new page clearly has less "hard news" content.

The screencaptures you posted prove that. The old format had six featured stories at the top (along with lists of associated headlines), plus eight additional stories under "more headlines." (Not all of those were "hard news," but most of them usually were.) Then there were 28 stories listed under the section headings at the bottom of the page, including 12 in world/politics/nation/metro (clearly hard news) and another nine in business/health/education, which were mostly non-fluff.

The new format has five to six featured stories at the top and six additional stories under "more headlines." Prior to the recent tweaks at the bottom, there were only 14 stories listed under the section headings at the bottom of the page, with zero in world/politics/nation/metro and only six in business/health/education. The only categories that you added stories to were religion and arts & living. Are you really still confused about our complaints that the new format has reduced the amount of "real news" on the homepage?

Now that you have added the world, politics, and nation sections back to the bottom, we at least have an additional six "hard news" stories listed down there, but the total number of "hard news" stories on the homepage is still significantly lower than before. (The fact that the featured stories on top are usually world, nation, or politics stories isn't really sufficient. First, I would hope that the Washington Post has more than one or two world news stories that they would like their viewers to read. Second, the top stories change frequently, and not having a world or nation section below means that the top stories of the day often go from featured at the top for a few hours to buried in the bowels of the website, rather than just moving down further in the homepage. I don't think this makes any sense. Finally, the bottom stories should be additive, not repetitive - if there are two world stories at the top, the ones at the bottom should be stories 3-5, not just links to the same stories.)

I do appreciate the fact that you are tweaking the new format a bit in response to comments. I noticed that there are more stories listed under "More Headlines" at the top today as well as more related headlines listed under the featured stories at the top, and I hope those are both deliberate changes and not just a random one-day occurance. And thank (random higher power from the religion section) you got rid of that massive "On Being" thing at the top of the page.

Please go back to at least three headlines under the section headings at the bottom! As many others have mentioned, listing only two per heading is a colossal waste of space (and it's a shame to hide that much good content). Even if you refuse to jettison some of the fluff that is currently taking up space, you still have some blank white space at the bottom next to the "MEET GIO" OnBeing advert and the "Sponsored Blogroll." You could move those to the left and have enough space to add a third story to the sections, or you could move a couple of the fluffier sections (Religion, Arts & Living) to the left under Entertainment.

By the way, I am also part of that 20-something demographic that everyone seems to think you are pandering to with these changes....

Posted by: New Math | April 14, 2007 06:47 AM

I definitely agree about the lack of hard news stories on the top screen. When I look now (on my laptop), I only see two headlines with associated stories. It seems that nine times out of ten the top photo is now associated with "fluff" instead of news (e.g., On Being, a Boy Scout with lots of badges, school kids putting on a show); this is an opportunity lost to present hard news. By contrast, in the same amount of real estate at the New York Times, I see 3 hard news headlines with associated stories, and a listing and link to their Opinions section (a top destination for me). In addition to that are stories from their book and arts and leisure sections, and the latest stock market numbers -- all in the top screen. So, at a minimum, I'm getting 50% more news at first glance over there -- and that's not even counting the quick access to other features such as the Opinion section (even with the greater amount of news content, the NYT also manages to get in 4 ads in the same space, compared to 2 for the WaPo).

As New Math notes, it's also frustrating if you take the time to review the entire WaPo homepage (all 4 to 5 screens of it!) only to find several of the headlines repeated. That seems like a waste of space and a lost opportunity to present links to additional stories.

Re: the "flyout" box used to list additional "News Columns and Blogs" (it has disappeared for the moment, but I assume that it will return...)... When you click on the box, you have to do quite a bit of scrolling to see the full listing. There are two reasons for this. First, the box is needlessly lengthy because of all the extra white space inserted between the text lines; this actually reduces rather than increases readibility. It would help a lot if the list was tightened up. Additionally, when the box pops up, the content is physically listed mostly below the point where you click. Having the box go "up" from that point instead of below would make it possible to view the titles without having to scroll so much further down the page. It would also help to have links to "close" the box both at the bottom and top of the box so you don't have to scroll back to the other end of the box to close it.

Thanks for your attention to your readers' concerns.

Posted by: AZS | April 14, 2007 11:47 AM

First off, the chorus of "put it back the way it was" people ought to realize that without any additional thoughtful commentary, their words will just be taken as Luddism and disregarded accordingly. I am guessing you're the same group who can be counted on to complain when your offices get remodeled or your favorite brand of cereal starts being sold in a different box. Yes, you will need to slightly adjust your daily routine of browsing the site to figure out where stuff is. This is hardly a Herculean task.

Second and more importantly, the people complaining that things are only being done to increase revenue (adding clicks, more front-page ads, etc) need to WAKE UP and stop with the free-riding. News costs money, folks. People aren't buying the print edition because they get it for free here - such is the reality of news consumption in the 21st century. So the Washpost has to make decisions that will help make this site more profitable. Yet often the same people whining that there are too many ads or that they now have to do one extra click to get to a story are the same people whining about the lower quality of news. TO GATHER NEWS, A MEDIA ORGANIZATION NEEDS RESOURCES. The way to get resources is by getting advertisers to pay, since clearly you people (readers) aren't going to pay. Occasionally that process might make things less effortless for the reader - well, cry me a river. The alternative is not HAVING much of any real news, or just having a bunch of bloggers (who are a good step in the SPREADING of news, but other than a few terrific exceptions do not actually GATHER it) babbling about mostly nothing.

This remains one of the best news sites on the Web. Keep up the good work, Washpost.

Signed,
A newspaper person fed up with the whining

Posted by: GP | April 14, 2007 01:09 PM

Your comments about the revenue model are certainly legitimate. We all need to recognize that, ultimately, it is a for-profit business that provides this site and the news-gathering resources behind it.

But I'm not sure that I'm with you all the rest of the way. Many of those who have posted to this column (which, by the way, I came to late) seem to care about the Post passionately. Few have complained about the number of ads and at least one mentioned that other, comparable sites have more ads.

Instead, the overall thrust seems to be toward the level of effort needed to do three things: (1) identify hard news stories, preferably by headline or some similarly-efficient manner; (2) identify which of those hard news stories are new and which have been viewed previously (witness the number of requests for Internet-standard color changes for previously-visited links); and (3) get to the meat of those stories that interest one.

Many of us seem to visit the site frequently during the day for very short intervals of time and most of those who do this seem to be most interested in identifying and reading new hard news stories quickly. This isn't a more or less legitimate way of viewing this site than what might be used by another viewer who wants to spend a long time with the site at one sitting and who might well be most interested in features or other "soft" stories. There are many ways to read a newspaper and many ways to approach a news website.

It seems to me that if the site is truly intended to be supported by advertising then its design should encourage visitors to do whatever it is that brings in the revenue. In a bricks-and-mortar store, retailers are expert at trying to maximize revenue from each paying customer. Likewise, we should expect the Post to try to maximize revenue from each visitor. It's not only legit for it to try to do so, the very future of the newsgathering may depend on it.

But there are many ways to do that and I'd suggest that a well-designed site should be able to cater to a fairly broad variety of users in a fairly transparent manner.

For example, the Post's research must have shown that their focus groups wanted more "features" on the home page, including more multimedia. If so, it's natural they would want to try to meet the desires of what could well be a large part of their audience. But that shouldn't have to come at the expense of another segment of their audience, namely the hard-news junkies.

Since the new page debuted, I've been coming to the site and navigating to the Political news headlines through a fairly-unwieldy process that involves multiple clicks and multiple scrolling. I've put up with it because I judge the content provided by the Post to be some of the best of its kind available anywhere. But I have to say that it was beginning to get to be a bore and I was starting to look much more frequently at the NYT and Google News. It doesn't serve the business interests of the Post to lose me and others like me who seek hard news, unless they replace us with at least as many people who may be interested in other features of the site.

Instead, it would seem that they would be best served by keeping us all -- in effect, widening their potential audience and getting us all to visit more often and to stay longer (or at least click through more) each time we do visit.

The Post is a newspaper. Certainly, newspapers have long offered features but they're not called featurepapers; they're called newspapers because the primary purpose is presumably to offer news. The new design has made it harder to see what's new in the news, identify which things we've already read, and then get to longer lists of stories than was true before.

But I don't think they should sacrifice other readers just to serve the news junkies. Instead, a number of us have suggested ways that they could make it easier for us to quickly get to headlines, longer lists of news stories, list of editorials, etc.-- without sacrificing any of the new features of the page. If it's easy for me to get here, find several lists of headlines and opinion pieces, I'll come often -- probably four or five times each day. I'll click through to those lists of stories, click on through to stories and opinion pieces that interest me and act in ways that presumably coincide with what the Post wants me to do to further their business interests. But if it's hard or tedious or just takes too long, I'll end up over at Google News and the NYT much more of the time. The Post is better -- or at least it was -- but the difference is in the margins. If I can visit quickly and gather information quickly, I'll be happy to be a loyal reader for whatever days I have left.

Finally, at the end of the day, it bears repeating that people who are coming here and taking the time to write are doing so because they already respect what the Post does, day in and day out, and are passionate fans. It's far better to ask for comment and get passionate criticism from those who like you than to simply be ignored by the masses.

Brian

Posted by: BLS | April 14, 2007 02:45 PM

I just feel like I'm having a harder time finding the news stories. I know that they are still there, but I feel like the cost of having all of that visually pleasing white space on the home page is that there are fewer stories, or at least fewer stories that are easy to find. I feel like I now spend more time hunting around for the features that I want (political news, White House Watch, Media Notes).

I also feel like huge amounts of space are taken up with multimedia features. I think that the "Pearls Before Breakfast" feature has been prominently displayed for over a week. I thought that it was sort of an irritating feature to begin with, but apparently the Post wants to switch in entertainment for news. That's fine, but I've had enough of hunting around for stories. I'll try to find some other outlet that features news more prominently.

Posted by: Loyal Reader | April 14, 2007 02:55 PM

Brian, your comments are interesting and thoughtful; clearly you care and that's, as you say, what really should matter to the Post. There have been many thoughtful comments here, and my rant wasn't directed at them.

That said, I should note here that I just clicked on the "Politics" tab at the top of the home page and was immediately taken to a page that seems to be a useful and fairly clear digest of political coverage, including some interesting-looking multimedia stuff (that is placed far enough down the page to make clear the editors recognize that hard news is still the main focus here). I guess I'm just not experiencing the crippling difficulty using the redesigned site that many people are describing.

I WAS a little annoyed the first day the new home page appeared, when I couldn't find the discussions box right away. Then I found it, saw the "Schedule" link clearly displayed, and figured it out. It just seems to me that the time many people spent posting angry "Put it back the way it was!" rants could have been better spent exploring the new site to figure it out.

Posted by: GP | April 14, 2007 02:58 PM

And for God's sake, if you weren't moved or at least provoked (I mean beyond the mild irritation described above) by the "Pearls Before Breakfast" piece, you have a stone in place of a heart. Entertainment? I don't even know where to begin to describe how much more than "entertainment" that story was, everything a well-written, thought-provoking, slice-of-life story ought to be. If people think something like that has no place in a daily newspaper, well, I feel kind of bad for those people. (And here we go again with the failure to recognize that for just plain financial survival reasons the paper must provide quality content that LOTS OF PEOPLE WANT TO READ! The story ended up being widely read not only here in D.C. but around the world; ooh, God forbid the Post respond to that by strongly promoting it on its webpage!)

I myself want much more from my Washington Post than simply a digest of what happened yesterday; I can get that from 20 other places. I want a combo of hard news and the unique, imaginative content I can't get anywhere else. I hope they keep providing that.

Posted by: GP | April 14, 2007 03:09 PM

GP, thanks. You're right -- that link does take you to the main Politics page. Once there, you can scroll down a ways to the Latest Headlines section and then click on "More". Doing that will take you to the "Latest Politics and Election News" page, which is where I like to go several times each day.

I didn't realize until this morning that clicking on the Politics tab at the top took you to the same place as doing what I have been doing: mousing over the News tab, going down to the Politics link and clicking on it, then scrolling down the page to the Latest Headlines and then clicking on More.

The Politics page IS -- as you say -- a useful and clear digest of political coverage. I'd hate like heck to see it go away. But it seems to change slowly and probably rightly so. If one visits it once a day, that's probably enough. But the headlines page is updated frequently and well worth visiting as the day goes by.

The Post just reinstated the Politics link under More Top Stories (along with several others). Clicking on Politics now also takes you to the digest page. So it's a big step in the right direction, eliminating the need to scroll back up and click on one of the tabs in the top menu. If they added a "headlines" or "latest" link after the word Politics, it would be just about perfect: from that one place, you could see a few headlines and then go directly to either the digest or the latest headlines.

I'm quibbling, like we all are, I suppose. But most of us are so busy today that sites that truly make it easy to get to the information we want to consume are the ones that people love the most and come back to again and again.

Thanks again and thanks for your original comments about the revenue model. Anyone who cares about the news needs to keep in mind that we have to support the business models of the newspapers.

Brian

Posted by: BLS | April 14, 2007 03:14 PM

GP, I just saw your second comment, regarding the "Pearls before Breakfast" story.

I completely agree: it was a great story, well done, imaginative and thought-provoking. I read it the first day it appeared and had to wonder if I would have been one to stop and listen or if I, too, would have walked right on by. It kind of goes to the heart of how busy we are and how so many of us choose to live our lives today. So it was far more than just a casual story and deserves to be promoted. It's also a bit timeless and could easily appeal to someone who visits here once a week just as much as it did on the first day for those of us who are daily visitors.

I commend the Post for providing so much excellent coverage in so many of the things they do. I think we have two papers of record: the NYT and the Post. Their strengths are different and I'll always come first to the Post for information about DC, national politics, the federal government, etc. It's because I respect the Post so much that I want to visit often. When I do, sometimes I have enough time to wander about and read some of the other offerings. Other times, I might have 2 minutes and just want to see if their are any new stories of interest. I think the site can -- and ultimately should -- support both short and more in-depth visits.

Brian

Posted by: BLS | April 14, 2007 03:24 PM

I'm getting better and better with the new look. I still liked the old one better, but I'm getting there.

However, going to the front page right now, I see a picture of Prince William and talk about his relationship status. HOLY HELL THIS IS NOT, REPEAT, NO F'ING WAY IS IT NEWS. Who really gives a flying fig? Please take that down off the front page right the hell now. We've got crazy ass weather coming that's going to make zealots start to build an arc, we've got a war going on, hell you have cherry blossoms all over town, and the first thing I see is that?!?! Please, go back to putting news on the front page. PLEASE!!!!

Posted by: Newsman | April 14, 2007 04:36 PM

Mr. Brady,

Is your team considering fixing the nav bar issue I and others have pointed out several times now?

The flyout/dropdown menus in the top nav don't have the full background for me. Only about 1/3 of the links in each category have the light blue background. The rest are laid over the page content underneath, rendering both the nav links and the page content unreadable. I posted a screenshot under this name upthread. I'm using Firefox with WinXP/SP2.

Your global navigation is broken for me, meaning I cannot navigate through your site. If that's ok with your team, then I'll take the hint and get my news elsewhere.

Posted by: usability tester | April 14, 2007 06:37 PM

Usability Tester, I have the same environment as you but the menus are working fine for me. They have implemented the menus with CSS, which Firefox should be rendering correctly.

I'm running Firefox version 2.0.0.3. Which version are you running? You can find out by clicking on Help/About Mozilla Firefox. The version number will probably be listed right below the large "Firefox" in the middle of the page.

If you are running a version that is prior to 2.0, you might want to update Firefox. It's safe, easy and fast to do. Just Google "Firefox". In the search list, click on the first non-sponsored link, which will probably be "Firefox - Rediscover the Web". There will be a link to download Firefox for free.

If you are asked to save a file, just save it to your desktop. You may need to then double-click it to actually do the install or it may happen automatically. Either way, it will only take a minute or so to install and then you'll be back up and running with version 2 of Firefox.

If you are running version 2 already, forget all of the above for I then have no real advice to offer you. :-)

Brian

Posted by: BLS | April 14, 2007 07:07 PM

I have not read all of the above comments so maybe someone has hit it ... I live in Thailand and daily access the NY Times and the Wash Post web sites ... for some reason I find the NYT much more user friendly and informative ... Post's seems to make it difficult to find all the news that I want to access ... the Sunday Magazine is a favorite in both cases ... in the Post's it is often difficult to determine what is the Cover Story, the most important article of the week. And is seems that occasionally the Cover Story is not the one which is based on the featured picture on the Magazine page ... the question arises is the pic of the kids with the goggles for this week's Magazine page actually part of the Cover Story ... check out the NY Times and there is never a question ... seems to me you gotta lot of work to do to catch up with the Times ... hope you can do it as I love the Post.

Posted by: Dale | April 14, 2007 10:22 PM

I like your home page a lot and wish that people would quit complaining about everything. Not everything is a conspiracy. I think the home page is great, and I trust that whatever few improvements might be warranted will be made by people with a lot more expertise than I have.

Keep up the great work.

Posted by: Sandy | April 15, 2007 01:53 AM

I missed most of your changes because I have been simply driven away from washingtonpost.com because I could no longer tolerate the advert popup that loads even before your main page does. It is a real plague.

I see it's still here. too bad. I won't be back to investigate all your changes... Just came back to see if I could possibly tolerate it to get to the local news. Nope. ...guess I'll have to stick to NY Times and WTOP websites...

Posted by: Anita | April 15, 2007 06:54 AM

Here's a piece of advice: pony up a few bucks and get Wall St Journal online. Yes, it costs some money but it's a web site that breaks news, makes sense, and doesn't take you through these constant gyrations. The blogs are free fyi

Posted by: WSJ user | April 15, 2007 08:53 AM

great re-design. but, i've noticed one small problem that only occurs if i'm using firefox. when i click on a photograph to enlarge, the window that opens up is too small to see the photo and won't stretch any larger.

this is an annoyance, more than a serious problem, but it would be great if you could fix it.

Posted by: wapo former intern | April 15, 2007 11:44 AM

How about smaller headlines, and more detail of what the story says, perhaps the lead or a summary of the story involved. It would save a lot of useless clicking and looking by narrowing down stories I am not interested in reading (but others might).

Posted by: edward allen | April 15, 2007 02:30 PM

For DLL: THANK YOU. That is an absolutely terrific explanation of why so many of us are not happy.

And I agree with the other complaints about Firefox and the nav bar. Even at my office, where I have a 21-inch flat panel and run Firefox 2.0.whatever the latest is, that bar does not display properly.

Posted by: Susan | April 15, 2007 03:41 PM

Mr. Brady: Thanks for informing that "Today's Paper" at top middle takes one to the Print Edition. Suggest renaming that little slot "Today's Paper/Print Edition" since you have the white space for it and it's not intuitive.

Know where to find the discussions, and do like and use them. Other than that, giving up on your online version.

Will not waste any more of my time hunting for updates -- too much work and other papers are able to do it better.

This is the worst redesign I have EVER seen.

Best wishes,
Lisa
PS: am a daily subscriber, but love to catch up w/online news when I have a quick break between work projects. No more at WaPo.

Posted by: Lisa, Northern Virginia | April 15, 2007 05:03 PM

I find the Wash Po site almost impossible to use. It seems a great mish mash of stuff just thrown together.

Perhaps that's because I come to your site to read the news. And finding the news is very difficult. The problem is the site forces the reader do the editor's job: Discerning what's news, deciding the relative importance of each story and presenting it in an informative manner.

For example:

Right now on your home page you have headlines for five major stories. But all except one are given equal weight, making it impossible to discern which is newsier.

And worse you then have eight more stories listed in smallish identical type under the useless "more headlines" list. I have no idea if these stories are about the U.S., politics, human interest, Europe, health, etc.

Compared to the New York Times site reading Wash Po is like playing with a mind boggling number of nesting cups. For instance under the pull down menu labeled "NEWS" is a clickable link labeled "Politics" but then right next to the NEWS menu is another menu also labeled "POLITICS."

Talk about confusing.

Even worser when you jump to the Politics or POLITICS homepage the portion of the page that first shows up on the screen is a confused mixture of buttons, ads, menus, a columnist's writings and what may be an actual news story.

Unfortunately, I rarely stay around long enough to find out because the design is so frustrating I'd rather check back to the Times to see if they've updated their pages in the five minutes I've been frustrated on your site.

I say scrap your whole website, copy the New York Times and call it yours. Everybody will love it.

Posted by: David Israels | April 15, 2007 08:45 PM

still a "loser" redesign... we gave our time and tried to assist... so much for listening to your longstanding customers... bye

Posted by: tiredoftryingtohelp | April 15, 2007 10:02 PM

Sorry, I need to see the maximum number of headlines. I wont fish. (except for Froomkin). In one click I can go to nytimes, realclear, google, and many others. I liked the old clutter. If you want to promote speed, use fewer resources for automatic updates, or update less frequently.

Posted by: McLean | April 16, 2007 06:47 AM

Mr Brady, I'm not sure if the Post has looked at alternate revenue methods, but I would really love to have an option to pay for fewer ads. I really like the subscription model that Salon.com uses, where you can pay for several different types of subscription, and how much you pay determines how many ads you see. I filter out the image and flash ads anyway, and I'd rather pay the Post for that than feel vaguely guilty that I'm making some reporter go hungry.

Posted by: mathias | April 16, 2007 09:04 AM

I've been trying to figure out the order of the sub-sections under the "More Top Stories" heading. I'm sure that there is a reason for the present order -- web design generally always follows a set of guiding principles -- but I cannot figure it out.

Currently, the order is:

Business
Technology
Sports
Nation
World
Politics
Health
Education
Religion
Arts & Living

Clearly, it's not alphabetical. It doesn't seem to be in order of importance -- who would think, for example, that technology news was more important than world news?

So I'm mystified. Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks,
Brian

Posted by: BLS | April 16, 2007 10:48 AM

"BREAKING NEWS
Gunman Reported on Virginia Tech Campus"

While MSNBC and CNN flag this event that's still going on, WP finally noticed it, but just posted a small link in small type 6 paragraphs down. Lord knows the 2008 presidential funding raise is much more important than the lives of a few students.

Posted by: Joanne | April 16, 2007 11:25 AM

I agree, the VT story should be much more prominent.

Posted by: a | April 16, 2007 11:27 AM

I agree with Vulture Breath. I'd rather see a page cluttered with news than a lot of white space. I don't want to have to click and click to find a good selection of the top news stories. I think that rather than digging deeper into the site, many readers (including me when I'm busy) will skip a lot of your great news content.

Posted by: karen | April 16, 2007 11:35 AM

Well, now I know that switching to cnn.com was the right choice. It's 12:14 PM on Monday and washingtonpost.com STILL doesn't have anything posted about the Va. Tech shootings.

Shame.

Posted by: s | April 16, 2007 12:15 PM

20 people dead at Virginia Tech and the Post has a tiny link. The dopey weather photos are more prominent. Look at www.chicagoribune.com, www.cnn.com, or www.msnbc.com for real news.

Posted by: Bob | April 16, 2007 12:30 PM

Well, no responses from the Post staff in several days and I now note that the link to this page has been taken off the site.

I guess we won't be getting any feedback. Too bad. Even with the griping, it seemed like there was a lot of good stuff here.

Brian

Posted by: BLS | April 16, 2007 01:19 PM

Sorry for not posting for a few days, but obviously, we're dealing with a major story here. Will be back when things settle down some. As for taking the link off the home page, that was a pretty easy call. Would seem inappropriate to have kept up an editor's note about a new home page adjacent to this terrible, tragic story.

Posted by: Jim Brady | April 17, 2007 11:45 AM

Mr. Brady said "Would seem inappropriate to have kept up an editor's note about a new home page adjacent to this terrible, tragic story."

Would you please also take off the "Want More Money" box? That's offensive in general to me, but money is especially trivial now, after the Virginia Tech shootings.

Posted by: A | April 18, 2007 01:39 PM

Comments all over the site are disappearing and being filtered for more than profanity.

I ask that you remove the "Want More Money?" box from the front page. I find it offensive in light of what's happened.

Posted by: A | April 18, 2007 03:33 PM

Please add RSS feeds for most e-mailed and most viewed articles.

Posted by: RSS please | April 19, 2007 10:25 PM

Oh nooooooooooo! It's baaaaaaaaaack! "On Being" is once again the feature photo at the top of the page. It does seem that there are many more important news stories out there that could be featured instead of this sort of "fluff"...

Posted by: More news, please! | April 25, 2007 10:51 AM

I'm looking for a "light" blog that talks about community events, and positive things going on around the world. Are there any of that variety on washingtonpost.com?

Posted by: Maria | April 25, 2007 02:15 PM

Discussions are huge. I'm glad the changes were made. I run a blog at http://iwantpennies.blogspot.com and find that adding the ability to not only allow others to comment, but to encourage it, not only builds a more loyal reader base, but it also makes everyone else seem real -- the writers and the readers.

Brian

Posted by: Brian | April 27, 2007 12:47 AM

Can you please update your comments software? It does not allow most punctuation, and also has other arbitrary filters such as any word that uses C-K consecutively. Very difficult to post comments today. Is ZEDO interfering? Please improve the comment handling!

Posted by: Ev | April 30, 2007 03:47 PM

Please no more on being! Cant't you see we want news, not religion in our paper.

Posted by: jd | May 2, 2007 09:56 AM

I agree the comment software is no good. Let us use punctuation!

Posted by: | May 3, 2007 04:08 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

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