How print dominates the design of newspaper websites

In his presentation at ISOJ, Nuno Vargas, University of Barcelona (Spain) talked about how news and information is graphically presented online.

His paper (PDF) discusses whether the design of online newspapers shows they are embracing the web fully as a new medium or whether they are they anchored to the paper metaphor.

He found that newspapers still approach the web from a paper-based concept, rather than as a dynamic medium.

Vargas said our role is to make data visible to user in the best way possible and allow them to make decisions on how they navigate this. But we are not there yet.

In his analysis on online newspapers in Brazil, Argentine, Portugal and Spain, he found there was no robust but flexible information architecture.

Vargas showed examples of the front pages of newspaper website, colour-coded to indicate multimedia. It was a powerful visual way to show how the print metaphor dominates newspaper web design.

He concluded by urging news outlets to accept that the web is a new medium, and shift away from transferring existing design ideas to the web.