As I browse Sign on San Diego for the first time I easily recognize the format of a newspaper type website. These high content super sites have to be creative in the way they are layed out to fit in as much as possible.
As I continue on the site the first thing I notice is strong sense of inconsistency. The index is center aligned while the majority of the other pages are left aligned. Also the designs are very different on each section. I feel like I have to re accustom myself to the web page each time I jump into a new section.
Learning from the big boys, CNN.com
When I think of large news websites I think of CNN first. I visited their website to see how they dealt with section differences. CNN’s recent redesign really is beautiful and it also makes the website very easy to navigate.
CNN changes their header for each category of news you are viewing. This is a great tactic, it leaves the rest of the site and the general navigation very similar across the whole website.
The sporadic design and alignment across Signonsandiego.com gives a very unprofessional feel. It leads me to assume that several different designers worked on this website and none of them worked together. From a user stand point this could lead to confusion and frustration.
Don’t let me loose my place, keep that footer
One thing I like most about the index and Today’s paper section is the footer being included. It helps me find where I want to go with links clearly divided in to sections.
Even though there is a vast amount of links it helps the user find where he is looking to go quickly instead of wading through several forms of tabbed navigation in the header.
These things leave me confused
Why Search the Web?
As I navigate the header I find an option to search the web. Why would I want to search the web through your website? Also, why is there not an option to search your whole site? I only see an option to search News/Sports and Entertainment. What if I was interested in searching Business or Smart Living?
Make your design flow: Work on making your site design float better. Choose center alignment or left alignment and stick with it. If you would like to make a section look different model it after CNN’s header only approach to signify differences.
Be consistent with navigation: Create a simple way to navigate to each section of the site. Currently there are 3 different upper forms of navigation in the header competing for attention.
Create a site wide search: Currently I am only able to search News/Sports, Entertainment, and the web. What if wanted to search the whole website for articles on snowboards, for example.