NBC News website setting trend or being trendy?

Imaginarian and user experience expert Nathan Vaughn takes a look at the new NBC News website and assesses its functionality. Nathan, take it away …

NBCnews.com has made some serious changes to the user experience on its website. The new layout probably looks pretty familiar. It’s a Pinterest ripoff that is the new normal for many websites. The format is basically several blocks of content with ads mixed in, and it looks pretty solid on an iPad — especially in a vertical format. But on a laptop, in my opinion, it looks like a giant mess.

One of the major changes to the user experience elements is the main navigation that is tucked away into a more mobile-type display, but it’s shown to all form factors this same way. Another is a lack of clear categorization of types of news with category headers, then article listings.

To be completely honest, I’m not a fan. This type of layout does not scream “user friendly” to me. But, we may be looking at a shift. Things are trending this way a bit. Whether it has staying power or not, I don’t know. I, personally, do not feel that this is a good direction. I do not believe it improves clarity, usability, readability or focus. But, at the end of the day, our clients may want creative like this, but with the best user experience possible.

Still, if the plan is to make the site easier to use on mobile formats (i.e. for the next generation of users), then it’s probably a pretty smart move that could ultimately make NBC a pioneer for news sites.

NBC News should take another cue from Pinterest and arrange the content blocks by category. Right now on NBC News, there are categories in the top left corner of each content block, but they are all thrown together on what seems like an endless homepage on the desktop format.

Some argue that the new site demonstrates that content is taking priority over design. Other users who primarily use their phones to visit sites say the design is indeed the direction things are headed.

So, what are your thoughts on the NBC News site? Do you think this type of layout is trendy or the future?

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