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Courier-Tribune Newspaper

content over design

In the original review request of The Courier-Tribune, the author commented: We are a community newspaper in Asheboro, NC. We have tweaked the print paper and are looking to tweaked the online version.
Reviewed by: Colin Coupland is an online newspaper in the middle of America (somewhere in North Carolina), and approaching this site from a graphic design point of view, I was initially horrified! Poor colors, bland design and generally poor layout. Then after a few seconds I decided that I was going to review this site anyway. And then, I discovered something... what brilliant content!!
Content rules
Firstly, I clicked on a subtitle about the war in the Iraq. This gave a detailed description of each soldier serving in the US military and a photo. It was clear and easy to understand. I was pleasantly surprised by this - it was a touching and very human piece of real content. It was not the blandly written content that you normally get on websites.
      Next, I looked at some of the other topics. There were lots of other interesting content areas such as events, on-line surveys and classified ads. They were all easy to view and easy to navigate. I knew exactly what I could do and how to do it.
Large, readable text
One of the features of highly graphically designed websites is small text. Web fonts are generally ugly so the tendency among designers is to reduce the size to something unreadable. I must say that the text in this site was large and very readable -- particularly good for older readers. I normally ignore text in favor of graphics and animations. Although it was not brilliant graphic design it was brilliant content.
Overall observations
In some respects this site has all the features that I despise on the web - bland, boring design. And, I must admit that if I had not decided to review this website, I would have taken one look at the site and immediately closed the page down -- not giving it the time of day. It would have been difficult for me to review this site, if it weren't for the brilliant content. Which makes a strong point for initial reactions.
      Some may see me as a design snob -- you cannot make me hang around poorly designed or boring sites. But if I can realise that inpsite of the boring graphics the content is quite good I'll stay. My view is that the overall look and feel of a website (that all-important initial first impression) is important. Generally a good graphic design and layout is followed by good content.
      This website will succeed because people will come back for its good, regularly updated content. Now, if you refine the look, and add some visual savvy you'll have a world class web site for even the graphics snobs!
Editor Notes:
Moral of the story: Good content is good content. You don't necessarily need decorations or design savvy to make good content. And if I'm reading Colin correctly, I have to agree. Once you 'hook' the reader, good content will always be a hit.
Be sure to read Colin's review of iBilt Technologies... he calls a "stress-free surf " 
Posted: 5/1/2003

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