New website for Stuff.co.nz

My favourite local news site Stuff.co.nz got a major overhaul yesterday.

Sticking with recent style trends, they now have more whitespace, larger and more colourful headings, flashy draggable content and they now permit limited user customisation.

Below is a side-by-side of the old and the new homepage – the most obvious change being the page height!

The underlying three-column layout remains, but is now much cleaner and easier to read in my opinion. Obviously, the new site is much longer, requiring a lot more scrolling, but overall I like the layout.

Gone are the dropdown menus from the old site (which were badly broken in the second beta of IE8), but I have mixed views on this. While I like the new horizontal menu at the top of the page, you now have to click twice and pass through an intermediate page to get to some of the subsections, eg, National News, then Education. For this, the dropdown was faster.

The inclusion of a (customisable) weather box at the top left is nice – afterall, that data comes from MetService (my employer for disclosure!). The other side of the header leads to my biggest gripe – the site search, powered by Google. Sadly, only around 50% of the results (during my tests) have dates attached – which is next to useless for searching for specific news items. Bring back the old search! Seriously.

So thus far I think the update is a good one, despite slower navigation and broken search. Final judgement however will have to be reserved until I’ve used it some more…

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The Great – Dangerous – Outdoors

The top four stories currently on the National News page at Stuff.co.nz make for sobering reading, especially since we are a nation that enjoys the great outdoors in summer…

Please take care out there! We’ve done too many Search and Rescue forecasts this summer already… 😦  Be prepared and be safe.