Last week saw the launch of a project I’ve been working on called “The Punch”. It was a great project to work on with some really talented people.
The Punch is an Australian opinion-driven news and current affairs site, that aims to engage its audience in discussion on the topics of the day. I won’t dwell too long on its raison d’être as David Penberthy has already given a very eloquant explanation for this.
However, I thought it would be worthwhile briefly outlining some of the user experience/ interaction design and visual design decisions we made:
- The site is about discussion and opinion, so a simple blog format was the obvious direction to take.
- The classic blog format is one that clearly, in most peoples minds, communicates the fact that the content is opinion based rather than, say, news.
- It has the virtue of giving the homepage a certain dynamism, as it’s constantly in a state of flux as new posts very prominently replace older ones.
- It gives the reader a chance to explore, and find out more about, the content of a post on the homepage itself. This is due to the the introductory paragraphs of the post being visible on the homepage. The aim here, then, is to help the reader decide whether they wish to read more based on what they’ve read, and consequently give great content the best chance to shine. This is as opposed to, say, a classic news site design in which a brief headline link performs the job of communicating the content. Furthermore, it’s less apparent change is happening on a site when simple textual, headline links change. They are less strong, visually, than the large headline/images/content format of a blog post segment.
- A blog format allows large, engaging images, media (video) etc to be shown on the homepage, further driving engagement. Again, this provision allows the reader to experience these elements rather than hide them behind a link.
- The stripped back visual design was very deliberate. We have a great team of journalists and contributors with really interesting things to say, and we wanted to provide them with the best possible platform with which to have a voice. Content is King, and we didn’t want lots of unnecessary visual elements compete or detracting from it.
- Comments were showcased on the homepage, allowing readers to get a feeling for the conversations happening ‘under the bonnet’.
- Most Commented and Recent Posts modules on the post pages provide an alternative navigation for those reader entering from search etc.
- The Hot Topics bar is another form of navigation. It’s an adaptive nav that aims to surface the zeitgeist topics of the day and is an alternative to the standard static global navigation
There is plenty more that could be said, but I think that’s enough to be going on. I’d suggest taking a look around the site itself.
I’d really welcome any comment or feedback you have on the design, so please feel free to leave a comment.
Oh, and by the way, the editorial team humoured me by putting up a post I wrote on how Google Maps allows you to plot a route from Australia to the US and suggests you kayak over the pacific ocean to get there!
It wasn’t really possible, in the Punch post itself, to give credit to the person who actually discovered this. Dianne Knott, a friend of mine, was looking this up with me and came across it, so huge credit to her!