The Globe & Mail, one of Canada’s principle newspapers, recently redesigned their website to better reflect the paper’s style and branding. In this post, I will be going over some of the things the re-design accomplishes as well as some other areas where it fails.
First of all, let’s discuss the good. The website strongly conveys a strong, classic “newsy” feel, which is a carryover from the print edition. It mirrors its print counterpart’s feel through the dominant colour scheme of red, white and grey, with touches of colour to accentuate different sections of the website (Business, Sports, etc). Great care has been given to the typographic color—the visual weight of the type—throughout the website. Verdana and Georgia are used well in tandem, and the heavy red rules work extremely well with the dotted black lines. There are some issues with spacing between headlines and such, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
In terms of layout, the site is extremely well organized. Front and centre are several main articles, with the primary one accompanied by an image. Both columns to the left and right reflect features, specials or alternative content. The “Show All Sections” drop down at the top is an intuitive and space-saving way to display a navigation for many different areas. The site features some interesting subnavigation elements as well.
As we scroll down “below the fold”, the sections get divided up but retain clarity through excellent use of space and breathing room, as well as layout differences for each section. For a paper of the Globe’s size and with the amount of content it puts online, this is a well-laid out home page.
The Devil is in the Details
Unfortunately, where the negatives come into play with the Globe’s site is with the typography. The principle articles headline is a fine size and colour, but the lead-in sentence doesn’t have nearly enough separation, and as such the headline and summary blend in together and don’t appear nearly as distinct as they should.
There are also inconsistencies within link colours & other typographic quibbles. While links are always red, some roll over to the grey and some don’t. This isn’t a huge issue, as the links are still obvious, but it is an inconsistency. Likewise, the features on the left hand side of the main page have a “section head” which blends almost entirely in with the text, leaving the point of emphasis muddled there. This could be fixed by slightly changing the color of the section head to create some extra visual distinction, nothing too difficult—but, an exercise in typographic hierarchy.
The final, and more substantial, issue with the redesign is the single-article page. The page itself is split into two tabs, one for the article itself and one for comments. However, the colour bar to separate the content from the nav is jarring, the layout and use of white space feels forced and awkward and the shadow which separates the content area from the ads down the right hand side comes off as incredibly distracting.
Overall, the site could’ve used a much more thorough look at typographical consistency and colouring before going live. The main page is well laid out and it ports the Globe “feel” to the web, but some inconsistencies and minor issues combine with a jarring single-article view to make an insubstantial impression upon the viewer. A good case for paying attention to the details and sweating the small stuff—with typography and design, it really matters.Want more? Check out the archives for previous reviews, and don’t forget to subscribe for future reviews, posted weekly.