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Jim has made some very

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 02, 2000

Jim has made some very nice tweaks to The Obscure Store and Reading Room, including organizing the stories by date. Previously, I found it difficult to determine how fresh the stories are…now I know.

In general, I’m impressed with how effectively Jim organizes the information on OSRR and MediaNews; it’s the newspaperman in him I would suppose. The links are very easily read, the headlines & copy are concise, and the use of bold in the copy allows for skimming without interfering with reading. Especially nice is the use of bold for the main links and plain text for other links as well as the use of a different, more subtle link color for the less-important items on the left-hand side of the page on OSRR.

I wish more sites on the Web paid that much attention to how information is displayed, particularly news sites and weblogs. This site, I think, is pretty readable (save for the small font size) but only because there are very few types of information being displayed with each entry (only a date, the copy, links, and the permanent bookmark graphic). The other day, while surfing a few sites I hadn’t been to in a while, I came across Michelle’s nifty redesign of sapphireblue. The design is visually quite nice and the ability to sort entries by date & category is done very well. My only complaint is that I couldn’t read the entries very well because of the white-colored link/date text combined with the black-colored copy. A link/date text color closer to black would improve readability quite a bit, I think. Additionally, moving the category information from the top of the post to the bottom and choosing a different link color for it (like that of the left sidebar items on OSRR) would aid readability as well.

Factovision is another site with good content on which the readability could be improved with a few minor changes. Setting off the date from the main copy by putting it in its own column works well, but sifting through the category, author, and the comments text (all of which are linked and therefore visually highlighted) to read the copy and find the links is difficult. For a post that includes these types of information, the hierarchy of information is roughly:

1. links within the post
2. main copy
3. date
4. category
5. # of comments
6. post author

Your mileage may vary with numbers 3 thru 6, but the links and main copy should be numbers 1 & 2.

To help illustrate what I am talking about, the post style on Metajohn is a good example of how to present many different types of information related to a post (each post actually contains 8 or 9 different types of information) while ensuring that the post copy and links are the focus. About the only complaint one can come up with for Metajohn’s post style is the overly bright link color, but that is easily excused because it helps establish the visual style of the site, which is important as well (although you may think it isn’t).

Hmmm….writing about all this has me thinking about how I can improve things on kottke.org. Perhaps some slight tweaks of my own are in order.