If WaPo wants Apple-slick X…

imageThe Solomon Scandals site has just ditched an older, more cluttered look in favor of a sleek new one. You’ll almost immediately find out what’s on the home page, through a mix of text and images.

OK, Washington Post. Time for you to follow with your own radical redesign? You’ve just appointed a chief experience officer, aka CXO. Hmm. Can a job title turn WaPo into Apple or Amazon? In fact, Katharine Weymouth did invoke Steve Job’s name in announcing the appointment of a numbers-crunching Ph.D. candidate as CXO. The very best of luck to Laura Evans (photo), also VP of research. I don’t care if the results come through math or Jobs-like zen. I just want good X.

For me, that would mean:

1. A truly different home page redesign. The last one was too incremental.

2. The ability of visitors to customize the home page endlessly and—via cookies—have the Post remember preferences reliably and for a long time.

3. Hyperlocal links on the home page from my own neighborhood. The links should be to goodies from both the Post and other sources. Readers could get rid of this feature of they wanted, but I suspect most would like it. When work on a broken water pipe interrupted traffic on Seminary Road a half mile from me, why did I have to read about it through the Post’s Trove service rather than on the home page of washingtonpost.com, the big show?

4. A ban on full-page advertisements, aka roadblock ads, which so often haven’t anything to do with my interests. Oh, how I detest these interruptions in newspapers. If papers must use roadblocks, then jack up the rates and try harder to limit them to readers for whom they’re relevant.

5. More use of text ads matching my needs. Yes, the right ads can be informative.

6. Conspicuous posting of Laura Evans’ contact information—and the same for WaPo ombudsman Patrick Pexton—-at the bottom of the home page and within iPad and Android apps.

7. Online apps that are as easy to use as USA Today’s one for the iPad. Like the home page, the apps should blend in hyperlocal. And if the social reader-generated items can be included, too, then so much the better.

Major Scandals-related detail: The real design work was done by Maximillian Kirchoff—I used a template of his. Hello, Ms. Evans? If WaPo wants really great numbers, maybe it should check him out as a possible hire.

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David Rothman

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