What if it doesn’t look like a duck, walk like a duck, and/or quack like a duck?

I was teaching class today and we were discussing the best practice to make sure that our sites have a simple design and layout. One of my students chose to critique news websites which which are often the worst offenders of sites that are not simplistic or have a simple layout or design. Over the years news sites have gotten worlds better and these are often choices for our critique as you have proposed for us.

One of the things that I found interested with his three choices displaying varying levels of Good, Bad, & The Ugly was that that they were all were centered, one-clumn, nop-nav… Probably one of the most popular designs on the web today. I wish I could find the history of that layout design but I can’t. In my opinion it largely evolved because of the popularity of blog sites, namely WordPress 🙂

Anyways, so the student gave me a challenge. I wanted to find a news site in STL that wasn’t a centered one column because I was so surprised that theirs were. I went through the first 10 pages from Google after searching for St. Louis News. Here is what I found…. only 4 out of 50+ that didn’t break the mold. I saved the best for last. Remember I am only talking about layout here!

  • St. Louis Front Page
    This site was not “centered” so I would say that this broke the mold.
  • St. Louis Job News
    Not a pure news site, but it does list news. I saw similar job news sites for STL that didn’t break the mold but this one did.
  • Washington University News
    Again not a pure news site, but every other STL news university site didn’t break the mold.
  • St. Louis Beacon
    This one broke the mold… and it is a real gem. I actually like this site and design. Very innovative. But riddle me this… does it feel like a news site?

What I am getting at is that if it doesn’t look like a duck, walk like a duck, and quack like a duck,… then is it a duck? Is the St. Louis Beacon a news site?


About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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