Field Notes: Los Angeles Times website

To a point, latimes.com mirrors it’s print counterpart, offering a minimalistic, bare-bones approach to design. The website utilizes a serif font for all text displayed on the home page, including headlines, subheadings and body copy.  Save for photos, the website is dominated by black text on a white background, again, differentiating little from the newspaper’s physical layout. The lead story is typically accompanied by a stationary photo with a headline underneath and story following it.

 

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The website’s homepage is relatively text-dominant, with a rail of the day’s remaining news worthy items running alongside the A1 story. Hierarchy is fairly simple to discern “above the fold” — what I’ve used to describe what viewers first encounter when they’re directed to latimes.com. But the website becomes a hodge-podge of “everything else” cluttered together the further you scroll. It descends in sections, from the Sunday Section, to photos, to religion and travel. Multimedia elements, including a Twitter feed and box for video  are placed in modules below the fold. I feel this aspect of the website could be played up more as it begs for the most user interaction.

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Design elsewhere on the website, such as in the Local, World or even Entertainment section likewise follow a format similar to the homepage’s. The LA Times tends to strip stories horizontally and provides a sentence or two, or caption to accompany headlines. Navigation is fairly standard, again mirroring the print product, which utilizes white text on a color-blocked background to introduce sections.

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I don’t think the the LA Times’ transition has been seamless, it lacks the level of user-friendly interaction the web offers. Right now, it looks like latimes.com is more of a dumping ground for stories in the newspaper’s print edition. I think this could be helped by more interactivity and color — the space and cost restraints of working strictly in print don’t exist online and I feel the newspaper should capitalize on that.

Debbie Truong