With so much content being packaged online, the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” is almost irrelevant today — at least in the literal sense. It seems a lot of news sites have taken the hint, rolling out redesigns that look more social- and mobile-friendly, less Netscape 1.0. Here we round up some of these sites, and share what they’re doing right.

The Next Web

The Next Web, the online tech magazine, is my favorite of the list. The first feature story is bold and stands out, but the rest of the content has good real estate on the page as well. Clear headlines, good use of one theme color (red), and large, high-quality images to accompany every story make this user experience really pleasant. The site is really visual and intuitive.

 

 


Salon 

Salon also recently launched a redesign of its site, using a slideshow of feature stories on the top with a single column of stories below it. The shift of the stories to one column is a more uniform (and iPad-friendly) strategy for the magazine. Mousing over each photo next to a headline provides social icons – a strong call to action for readers. Photos and videos are shared much more frequently than plain text, and this redesign packages Salon’s amazing content in a way that reflects this trend.

 

 

 

Mashable

Still in beta testing, Mashable’s redesigned site looks a lot like Pinterest. The best part about the new version? Amazing images with every post and infinite scrolling. Pagination is annoying and antiquated, and this redesign invites users to keep interacting with the site’s content without awkward interruption.

 

 

 

Quartz

While Quartz is a news startup, not a redesign, it’s worth including on this list because its beginnings in September signaled the trend towards iPad-esque design. While the tiny section headings on top leave something to be desired, the site’s user experience—punctuated by unobtrusive native ads and gorgeous images—makes reading the site’s content way more enjoyable than the traditional news sites it’s trying to disrupt.

 

 

 

USA Today 

Eschewing traditional rules of online newspaper user experience, the new USA Today site “allow[s] people to really have almost snippets of what they care about as opposed to sort of a soup of content they have to find their way through,” Irene Pereyra, global director of UX and strategy of Fi said. While many news sites get hung up on what goes above the fold, the USA Today site assumes users will interact with the content and focuses more on arranging it in a way that is intuitive.

 

  

For all of these sites, the increased use of images and deviation from traditional news site design is a win-win for consumers and advertisers alike. Consumers can digest news in a way that is more visually pleasing and sharable, and advertisers can place their own content much more easily within these innovative new designs.

All of the sites on the list above leave no room—at least aesthetically—for banner ads. With more such redesigns surely on the way, it’s time for brands and publishers to think about how their content can best serve them in the future.

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