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Washingtonpost.com Homepage Redesign

Bold Redesign for a Prominent Newspaper Home Page

Before launching its new home page, washingtonpost.com needed to know how the usability of the new design would perform. Would users accept and prefer the new design when they were so familiar to the old one? As strong believers in the importance of user testing, washingtonpost.com needed to be sure that the new site would enhance the experience for both local and national users of the site.


Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Both small and large sample research methods were used to evaluate the design. B|P conducted 20 usability interviews to gain insight into users’ behavioral patterns and interactions with the new design. Automated sessions ran simultaneously, where 200 participants posted comments to the prototype on virtual sticky notes. These participants were also asked to find information while their click patterns were recorded and tabulated.

Not only did the automated study support the story that the moderated testing was starting to tell, but it expanded the range of usability issues that we uncovered. With the help of the automated data, we got a greater level of precision into our insights.

One finding from the moderated study was that users had difficulty finding local news. In the automated study, we learned just how often users were unsuccessful in completing this task. We also learned exactly where they most often looked for local news by mistake.

With the help of the large-sample data, we were able to judge the severity of the usability issue, as well as find out more about what was contributing to the problem.

New Direction Backed by Statistically Significant Findings

Running an automated study in conjunction with moderated sessions helped verify that the feedback would hold up for a statistically significant sample of washingtonpost.com users. The new design was a hit with most users, who appreciated the modernized look. However, users wanted less scrolling, and an even tighter integration of video and multimedia with their news. Before launch, washingtonpost.com was able to modify the design to address both of these issues.

User quotes:

  • “The videos were never presented as nicely as they are now … I never saw them before, period.”
  • “I like the [proposed] design a lot better more engaging and less cluttered, more easy to manage. The [proposed] one is more attractive. It makes you want to click on stuff.”