The New Yorker is a weekly magazine known for its compelling articles and commentary on current events and culture. A magazine which contains such sophisticated content deserves an equally sophisticated website—and in many ways they have succeeded in doing so.
The website appears to be designed around a six-column grid (but more on that later), allowing for flexible placement of various types of content.
Incorporating the illustrated man with the top-hat into the design must have been difficult, but was executed very well. Placed next to the classic logotype, the two go very well together. Both the illustration and logo sit above an elegant menu which really holds the site together.
The print version of the magazine features a beautifully illustrated cover for every issue (with nearly 50 issues printed every year). Obviously this was something that needed to visible in the web site as well. On the home page, the title and description of the main story is featured in the center of the page, accompanied by a black and white illustration.
Larger illustrations and comics that accompany articles in the print version of the magazine also appear along side articles on the website. This not only creates a “print-like” environment for the online version, but also connects the online version to the print version.
Times, a typeface frowned upon by many designers, can be one of the most elegant fonts used on the web—and was the perfect choice for The New Yorker. When I first visited the site, I was a little shocked to see Times in full use. The entire body copy is set in Times, and it looks good. In fact, I would have trouble enjoying the website if, say, Georgia were used as the body copy. Times is an old, classic typeface—which is fitting when used with an old, classic magazine such as The New Yorker.
Serifs certainly dominate the website, but sans-serifs are sprinkled throughout, mainly used as sub-headings. Set in dark red, the subheadings work very well with the rest of the site as it allows for a small change of pace without completely disrupting the flow of content.
The website is not without its faults, however.
When I first looked at The New Yorker website, I was impressed. Impressed by the limited color scheme, impressed with the use of illustrations instead of photos, and most of all impressed with their choice in typography. But once I truly studied the design, I began to like it less. There are various issues I take with The New Yorker.
As I mentioned earlier, the website appears to be based off of a six-column grid. As you can see on the front page, there are three sub-columns inside of the middle column of the website. From left to right, it appears that each column is the same width, except for the last column on the right. It is disproportional to the rest of the website. The way it is now is unbalanced. What section is more important? Had they made the right column the same width as the left column, the website would be better balanced. However, please take this with a grain of salt as I am a grid aficionado. I obviously take issue with this more than others.
The majority of print publications tab every new paragraph rather than addling a line break like most websites. The New Yorker decided to tab every paragraph rather than adding a line break after each. This becomes a problem with long articles as the content can become overwhelming without any room to breathe.
Advertisements are placed in the right column and very bottom of the home page. However, when a user clicks on a link to another page on the site, an advertisement is placed above the entire site (above the logo and the menu). This pushes the content down, including the menu, which in my opinion is a pretty big usability problem. The New Yorker could have done something similar in advertising the way The New York Times and New York Magazine did with their websites. Instead of placing an advertisement above the menu, therefore pushing the content down, advertisements could be placed to the side of the logo.
The New Yorker is a well thought out website. It makes good use of typography, color, and illustrations. But when observed more closely, there are several problems that are undeniable.Want more? Check out the archives for previous reviews, and don’t forget to subscribe for future reviews, posted weekly.