Change is in the air at NPR

NPR.org's homepage is getting a redesign today, with a focus on mobile devices and highly curated content.

The old homepage

Before the redesign, the homepage featured more than 100 links. NPR thinks this much content may have prevented readers from actually discovering the best content.

The old homepage

Infinite user paths help readers explore the various sections of the site.

Adding context with video

The design brings forward the best elements of a story, which might be video instead of text or audio.

Catering to a mobile audience

The new responsive design with adjust to fit mobile devices, which make up roughly half of NPR.org's audience.

NPR Radically Changes Its Views

The nonprofit media organization made its homepage responsive to any platform (including Google Glass), and with half its readers coming from mobile devices, it's about time.

Change is in the air at NPR. Just a few months ago, the organization uprooted itself and moved into brand-new Washington, D.C. offices. Today, it is unveiling a complete redesign of its homepage, offering a more responsive and carefully curated reading experience for the site's 23 million monthly readers.

"It is about engaging the audience and creating an experience that embraces them on whatever platform they want," Zach Brand, VP of Digital Media at NPR.org told Fast Company.

For NPR readers, that platform is mobile. Roughly half of the site's audience visits the site via a mobile device, so the team decided a responsive design was necessary. Now the site will adapt to any browser and any screen, including, NPR claims, Google Glass.

Where the old homepage was cluttered with more than 100 links, the new design moves away from the "above the fold" approach and features fewer stories, and much more prominently. Stories appear as cards, with a the top item accompanied by a large image that spans most of the page. Infinite scrolling and navigation tools that scroll with the reader aim for a "fluid but focused experience." The right side of the new homepage features the latest trending stories to encourage exploration.

"We're going to be more selective and more thoughtful," says Scott Montgomery, digital news managing editor at NPR. "We really believe... that's going to drive people to actually dive deeper." 

The design also highlights local news affiliates by automatically identifying and displaying a visitor's local NPR station. "We're doing a better job, frankly, of establishing the national/local connection that is such an intrinsic part of public radio."

Often when a site redesigns, the changes are marked by an onslaught of complaints from frustrated users, and even a temporary drop in traffic. But according to Brand, that hasn't been the case with NPR, which started rolling out its new design on story pages earlier this year. "We have seen very positive feedback. We actually have a correlated growth with the elements of redesign that we have rolled out so far. We are very optimistic that trend will continue with this homepage rollout."

[Images: NPR]

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7 Comments

  • VanDownByTheRiver

    The new site is an unfortunate experiment that alienates long-time NPR fans and public radio contributors. Bad idea.

  • John doe

     Totally. Look at the BS moderator controlled interaction above your statement, from: "A Third John Doe," that has no reply button. Do you post here regularly? Is this common? Anyway, total agreement. New NPR design--epic fail.

  • John doe

    I'm a regular reader at NPR, and I can tell you, that almost all of
    their regular viewers hate it. The old page offered everything at a
    glance, and you could click around at what interested you. This new
    Tumbler page, shows very little upfront, and you have to scroll, and
    scroll, and scroll, to track down what used to be at your fingertips.
    Worst redesign I have ever encountered.

  • Another John Doe

    Depends on how you consume your content. Some like a focused, one blurb at a time, and will read many of them. Some like a huge pile all at once to sift though it. However if you have the huge pile, those that like one at a time may get more frustrated. With the new one, you can still see all you want, and even customize it more. Also stating that 'almost all of their regular viewers hate it' is a pretty unbacked statement, it may seem all of them do because you do, and your friends do, but that psychological perception thing, we don't know all because we don't have the data, and I'm sure NPR wouldn't change everything on no concrete data anyhow.

  • John doe

     You're wrong. If you want data go to NPR, to the page "Out of the Box'. It's their welcome to our new changed site article. You'll find over 600 comments, with what I'd calculate to be a 99% disapproval rating. This is not just my personal opinion, or my friends, this is an overwhelming consensus. This new site is a complete bomb.

  • John doe

    Since for some mysterious reason there is no "Reply" option/button for the: "A Third John Doe", I guess my only option is to reply to my own statement. Seems a bit facist--why the special treatment "A Third John Doe?" Your answer to that question would be much appreciated.

    Since your statement is a "comment" and by your words "people only go out of their way to comment," "when their cheese is moved" I will place you in the same category you are deriding, and disregard your comment just like you did theirs, as a (lol) cheese moving experience.

    Myself, I prefer to eat cheese instead of move it, but each to their own...

  • A third John Doe

    Still doesn't mean much, because people only go out of their way to comment "when their cheese is moved" so to speak.  The vast majority of people using the site are probably fine with it and simply have no comment.  Let's say 1 million people either enjoy the redesign or have no opinion: Suddenly the 600 people that commented only represent .06%