Boston Globe Takes the News into the Responsive Design Era

The design world is all atwitter about the Boston Globe’s new website. It’s not a redesign—oh, no, the old site is still there, in all its crowded glory horror:

The site will remain free and open to the public. The new will be subscribers-only. The Globe certainly isn’t the first newspaper to try a paywall, but they might just be the first member of the fourth estate to have a website that doesn’t make your eyeballs bleed:

The new site is free for the time being, but when the trial period ends Oct. 1, the cost will be $3.99 a week (print Globe subscribers will get free access). Editor Martin Barren, quoted in this piece, might’ve said it best: “Some [people] understand journalism needs to be funded and paid for. Other people just won’t pay. We have a site for them.”

Not only is the new clean, sleek and well-organized, it responds to the size of the user’s browser (click the image below to enlarge):

This fabulous example of responsive design was worked on, among others, by the guy who wrote the book on it: Ethan Marcotte. The newspaper recruited him, Filament Group and Upstatement for the site’s development, which Marcotte described on his website as a collaborative, circular process:

I can’t think of any project I’ve worked on that was nearly as fun as the months that followed, as they were a giddy blur of building, sketching, and thoughtful discussion. We tried to work as iteratively as possible, quickly moving from Tito and Mike’s goddamned exquisite mockups into responsive prototypes, in order to experience the design “live” in the various devices and browsers we were supporting. As Aarron Walter might say, we were letting the use of the site inform its design—vetting our early design assumptions with prototypes, which also allowed us to identify areas that needed further visual refinement.

Nieman Journalism Lab has an analysis of the site from a journalistic and business perspective. And the Globe posted a video about the site’s development:

My only suggestion for would be to bump up the maximum size for people with very large monitors—I’m picturing a billboard-size photo a la the Big Picture.

Are there any newspaper website designers out there who’d like to add their two cents? I may be wrong, but I think this is this first time a major newspaper has attempted responsive design.

2 thoughts on “Boston Globe Takes the News into the Responsive Design Era

  1. Nick

    Knowing a bit about responsive design, I would be curious to see how they are managing images and other assets. Also wonder how they manage ads and what kinds of server side stuff they use to serve it all up. I need to check this out…

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