In one of my former incarnations I ran a postgraduate diploma in multimedia design. That was seven years ago, but the essentials of design have not changed. Yet every time a website relaunches, it’s a disaster.
Media Week redesigned a few months a go and introduced free registration. It took me the best part of two weeks and several emails to get in. At one stage, I got so fed up I look the site off the Links page at Magforum.com. Now, Press Gazette has gone and done it. As usual, the changes are not for the better:
- less of what I want to see can be seen on my screen at home. My day job is as a journalist in a multimedia newsroom on a national newspaper and my screen there is no better than the one at home. The redesign will not benefit journalists;
- the lefthand navigation column has disappeared, so to find the magazine section, you have to look under the ‘Home’ dropdown menu (weird logic website designers use);
- the names of all the 16,000 Press Gazette stories dating back to the late 1990s – an archive of which the paper is justifiably proud – have been changed, so links to these on web pages no longer work (I think this is called ‘shooting yourself in the foot’).
Why don’t designers do any testing with real people?
I’ve told PG about the problems and they are hoping to write a script to address the problem with the page links. However, I’ll bet the budget for the redesign will have gone over by half and there’s no money to pay a programmer to sort it out; so don’t hold your breath.
The typography may be better and the site may make better use of hi-res screens (in other words it’s been designed for other designers, who are the ones most likely to have big screens), but this is a fat lot of good if the usability has gone down the plug hole.
If the PG‘s designers – Jody Willis at Abacus E-Media and Michael Crozier – had handed this in to me as a student project, they definitely would not be getting a distinction.