In March, the New York Times unveiled a major redesign of individual article pages. The company billed it as an interpretation of the newspaper for the online experience of 2013, replete with a requisite responsive design, web fonts, and bigger photography. In addition, the newspaper eschewed pagination in favour of a single-page format.
I received my invitation to test the prototype earlier today. In the email, the Times promised that this redesign was “optimized for iOS 6 on iPad”, which is an oddly-specific targeting. However, it speaks volumes about the shifting device demographics. The website for one of the most widely-circulated newspapers in the world is primarily targeting iPads — not desktops, not laptops, and not “tablets”. That’s huge.
But a focus on a contemporaneous website doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful web experience. It’s important to keep in mind that this is just a prototype, and is very much a work in progress. But, as of right now, it requires a lot of work in order to progress:
As you can see from the video, the article page uses its own crappy scrolling coefficient. It feels too fast and inconsistent. A visit to the WebKit Inspector reveals that the article resides within its own hidden overflow
A couple of other issues were immediately noticeable: the lack of scrollbars is presumably another byproduct of the odd scrolling implementation, and graphics throughout the prototype are not optimized for a retina display. Finally, the prototype doesn’t work at all on my iPhone.
I must stress that this is obviously a prototype, and doesn’t (yet) represent the shipping product. However, the Times is releasing these early previews in an attempt to solicit feedback and issues. I’m only too happy to oblige.