therecord.com.auDesign / Website development
Revamping the website of the The Record accompanied a suite of structural and design changes to the weekly newspaper.
Technically the revamp presented a number of challenges. The version of the Joomla content management system on which the website was based had long been superseded to the point no straight-forward upgrade was possible. A multi-stage upgrade through several intermediate Joomla versions was therefore necessary. During the process the opportunity was taken to bulk reprocess bloated image file sizes, which in many cases were being served at print-ready resolution (300 dpi), slowing page downloads considerably. Particularly challenging was that many of the useful features of a CMS, such author designation, had not been historically used. Useful back-end house-keeping, such as saving images by standard dimensions and naming nomenclature in a logical folder structure, had also been neglected.
Aesthetically, the website’s design was also very outdated. The existing “boxed-in” template used page elements ineffectively. Prime real estate was cannibalised by the left-sidebar menu, with an additional menu across the top of the page. This split navigation was further complicated by the use of non-obvious section titles. The general schema of white sans-serif text on a dark background did not promote readability, particularly for longer-form writing.
For the new template a cleaner and more visually compelling approach was chosen to complement the aesthetic ambitions of the print edition, particularly in its presentation of feature articles. Clutter was removed from the masthead with simpler, easier-to-understand menu navigation. The open design deployed larger serif fonts with a considered relationship between typographical elements (such as point size and spacing) to improve readability, which was particularly important for older readers.
For the standard page format, articles were presented using a narrower column width to enhance readability and evoke a greater sense of the newspaper aesthetic. Important white space was provided by a right-hand sidebar for “stickability” navigation elements such as pointers to articles related by category, topic and author.
Social media functionality was introduced, allowing readers to share stories through the standard channels, and sharing through Facebook and Twitter pages was also initiated.
The new template also, importantly, incorporated multiple spaces for advertising banners conforming to IAB standards.