Today’s Guardian

I’ve made a new thing, Today’s Guardian, a website that features today’s edition of the Guardian (or the Observer on Sundays). Hopefully it’s as easy to browse through today’s newspaper as it would be with the print edition. It’s made using the Guardian’s Content API. Read on for the thoughts behind it…

Today's Guardian

I’ve blogged before about my dissatisfaction with news sources (eg, 1, 2), and earlier in the year I realised that one of the major problems online was delivery of text-based news. There was no online news source that I could browse and read as easily as I could a print newspaper.

I identified three main issues that a better online news-reading solution should address:

  • Friction
  • Readability
  • Finishability

I’ll discuss each in turn, but in some depth. If you’re short of time you could jump straight to the summary. News about the site will be posted on Twitter at @todaysguardian.

Friction

By friction I mean any events that take place before you start reading a news article, which is the thing we want to do. These events could be physical actions or decisions you have to make.

Let’s assume you have a newspaper in front of you, or you have a news website open in your browser. What are the points of pre-reading friction?

With a newspaper there’s almost no friction involved with the articles on the front page. Without thinking about it your eyes will drift across the page and might settle on an article and begin reading. You will, at some level, have to make a decision about whether to pause and read something, but it’s a decision with few consequences — you know you can stop reading the article at any point without investing much more physical effort or decision-making, at least up to point at which the article continues on another page.

The next point of friction is when you’ve exhausted the front page and you must decide whether to continue. While the earlier decisions about whether to read an article had few consequences, the consequence of this decision is slightly greater: you will have to turn the page (either to page two, a random internal page, the back page, or to another section).

Turning the page is possibly the greatest point of friction we’ll discuss — turning a page is a larger physical action than clicking a link on a web page, for example. If you’ve casually picked up a newspaper you might not pass this point — it’s enough friction to make you put the paper down. But it is, nevertheless, a simple decision: yes or no?

If you choose “yes”, the rewards are relatively large: you will have several articles to choose from, all requiring almost no further friction to begin reading. So if you do turn the page, we’re simply back to the point of making the very small decisions about which article to read next, if any.

Let’s now look at the friction involved in reading most news websites (eg, the Guardian itself, BBC News or CNN).

Initially there is very little friction — the pages are almost designed to be friction-free. It’s easy to take in much of the initial content without deciding whether to invest any effort. Your eyes skate over the small images, the headlines and the explanatory blurbs.

It could be that one article grabs you and you’ll eagerly click the article without even thinking. That’s pretty good; little decision-making has to happen there.

But otherwise you now must decide which of the large number of articles you want to read. This is very different to a newspaper front page on which we have a small number of articles but can start reading any of them immediately. Online we have many articles but can’t start reading any of them without performing an action.

(When discussing newspapers I have in mind the “quality” press here, and I’m also ignoring the teasers they often litter around the front page — I tend to see these as adverts for the potential purchaser, rather than the equivalent of “links” to content inside for the post-purchase reader. It’s very rare I’d read a teaser and turn immediately to the relevant page to read the article.)

This decision, about which headline to click on the news website, is a tricky one, with a lot of potential friction involved. If we click the link we’ll have to wait for the next page to load and, once we’ve read the article, we must perform another action to get back to the front page, assuming we want to continue reading — another decision!

With every single article we must weigh up how much we want to read it, based on a headline and maybe some blurb, with the effort involved. And if we decide to read the article and then regret our decision, we still have to expend the same effort: click the link, then return to the front page. For every story.

So, with a newspaper the biggest points of friction are turning the pages — the paper is most likely to lose us once we’ve exhausted a spread. And this decision is a little gamble, the paper promising us that there will be something worth reading if we turn the page. But we don’t know what will be there. So, even if it’s a paper we wouldn’t normally read, that we perhaps picked up in a cafe or on a train, this hope, that there will be something worth reading, may be enough to make us turn the page. Between these page-turning points of large decision there is very little friction when it comes to deciding what to read. Once the page is turned, it’s easy. Newspaper stories come in small, almost friction-free groups.

But with online news websites, every single article has a point of friction associated with it. Does that headline make us think the article will be worth a couple of clicks and a momentary wait? And once we’ve exhausted the front page we must decide where to go next. This is different to the simple “Shall I turn the newspaper page?” decision, with its two options and its unknown prize. We must now decide which article to visit, if any, from the large choice on offer. When we click one, we know what we’re going to get; there’s no unknown prize. And after reading it we’re back to the start, with the same decision to be made.

Most news websites are exactly the same from this point of view. It’s as if the front page of a print newspaper contained only a bunch of small pictures and headlines, rather than the beginnings of stories.

(Some newspapers’ front pages might feature nothing but one big picture, which it’s tempting to compare to a website splash screen but, given the different purchasing and consumption patterns of the two media — a newspaper must attract a purchaser before it can be read — it’s not a useful comparison in this context.)

Are there any news website front pages which are more like those of newspapers? That display big chunks of the text of the most important stories, rather than dozens of headlines and blurbs? I’d love to see some sites that are different.

Times Skimmer

The New York Times’ Skimmer is an interesting attempt to reduce some of this reading friction, and I wrote about it last year. While the front page is more like those of news websites rather than newspapers — there’s a decision to make before reading any article — the decisions are slightly easier because of the site’s speed. Because new section pages and articles are loaded using javascript, rather than causing a complete page refresh, things move more quickly — the consequence of clicking is slightly less. However the article pages are still fairly heavy in terms of load time and they fail in terms of the second of our three issues, Readability.

Readability

By readability I mean how easy it is to read an article. There are many design (and editorial and technical and marketing…) decisions that affect readability. With most news sites it feels that these decisions are made in favour of the website’s owners rather its readers. Can the reading experience be better if we think about the design from the point of view of an individual reader?

Advertising, for example, does not make an article more readable. Obviously, they’re currently essential for sites run by commercial organisations that require this kind of income, but they don’t help readers in any way. They increase the loading time of pages and they’re an irrelevant distraction from the article you’ve arrived to read. Even if they’re not animated, making noises, or floating in front of the text of the article.

Navigation can also get in the way. Taking an article that’s closest to hand right now, this one (pictured below) from the New York Times, it doesn’t start until more than half-way down the screen if I’m using my laptop, thanks to a combination of advertising and around seven levels of navigation and orientation devices. And that’s just the article’s title. The first paragraph is the only part of the article body that I can read without performing another action, scrolling.

NY Times article

Navigation also includes all the stuff around most news articles: links to print, email, share, recommend, Twitter, etc; links to other services the site offers; links to related third-party sites; links to related articles; links to unrelated articles; in-house adverts for books, jobs, etc. All of this is clutter, some of which is conceivably relevant, but all of it distracting from the page’s main purpose: reading an article.

User comments on news sites aren’t necessarily distracting — they generally appear below an article — but like everything else they add to the loading times and slightly detract from the focus of the page. Are they worth it? Personally, I think not. They rarely foster “community” on major news websites and the few comments that add to one’s understanding of an article will be lost among the howling majority.

Readability is perhaps most reduced by sites that split articles over several pages, such as the New Yorker or Wired magazine. There’s no way in which this is anything but a hindrance to the user’s objective: reading.

The tool coincidentally called Readability is a partial solution to some of these problems, allowing you to read any web page in a clutter-free format that’s simply but readably styled. The new Safari Reader feature of Apple’s web browser replicates this functionality. It seems surprising that one large company (Apple) recognises that other companies (owners of websites) are acting against the interests of their customers and has decided to create a tool to solve these problems.

It’s a shame that such tools are even necessary. If you were creating a site whose purpose is to provide articles to read, wouldn’t you want to make it perform that task really well? Make the articles readable? Rather than add features that degrade this performance? (I know, you cynics; these sites’ fundamental purpose isn’t to provide the news, but to make money for shareholders or the company, but I’m being idealistic.)

Finishability

The third and final issue isn’t crucial for a news website as a whole, but it’s something I miss when going to read the news on one. I wrote about the concept of finishability a while ago, but I’ll go over it again in this context.

When I read a newspaper I’m holding a coherent package of news. “Here,” it says, “is what you should know today.” Once I’ve read it — or, at least, flicked through it — I know I’m up to date. I don’t need to read anything until tomorrow’s newspaper, which will catch me up with everything that happened in the intervening time. And while I’m reading the paper I know how much there is remaining — the pages in my right hand — and I know when I’m done.

This is very much not the case with a news website. There is no sense of an ending. There is no way I can be sure I’ve at least decided whether to read “everything”. There is, on most websites, no way I can be sure I’ve seen all that’s been published since I last visited.

This is fine if you visit frequently, or rarely, or sporadically. If you just want a dose of what’s happening “nowish”, news websites are designed to show you that. But if you want the equivalent of a newspaper — “Here is what you should know today” — you’ve gone to the wrong place. Not everyone does want this, many people just want “nowish”, but if and when you do want something else, there’s nowhere to go online, no daily newspaper equivalent.

OK, there are a few options. The Guardian publishes a list of articles in today’s paper, although it’s not very friendly and couldn’t be more friction-heavy. The digital editions of newspapers at NewspaperDirect are literally the closest thing to print newspapers but I doubt this is an ideal solution for reading the content online (I haven’t tried them).

The Guardian’s iPhone app is rather nice in many ways, but it doesn’t score highly on the finishability front. I often feel lost within it, and I have no sense of how much there is left to read. Have I seen all of the “UK News” articles? Were the ones I did see the most important? Have I missed any sections out?

An old criticism of newspapers, old enough to pre-date the web, is that they’re arbitrary amounts of news. Every day there’s just enough news to fill the newspaper, nothing more, nothing less. This is true, but unless you have the time and facility to read about everything that happened in the world in the past 24 hours, you’ll always have to stop reading somewhere. Whether it’s because you’ve got to the last page, you’ve got bored clicking round the website, or you’ve run out of time. Whatever the medium, you’re only ever reading about a subset of events.

What I get with a newspaper’s subset of events is a coherent package. If I have faith in the priorities of a newspaper’s editors then I get a sense I’ve read everything that’s most important today. I won’t have missed a chunk of important news because I forgot to click a link to a particular section of a website, or because I meant to go back and read something else but got distracted. I’ve worked my way through, from start to finish, and read “today”.

Of course, I often disagree with the priorities of a newspaper’s editors. Less so with my paper of choice, the Guardian, but still frequently. However, tackling that is a bigger, harder, more complicated issue. And right now the least bad solution is to rely on people who have experience, some of whose views I agree with, to choose what counts as news today. An alternative might be to read what’s popular but I don’t want my sole knowledge of the world events to be determined by what’s being sent round on email.

Summary

So that’s the thinking behind my Today’s Guardian website.

I wanted something with reduced friction. There should be as few difficult decisions as possible, nothing harder than “shall I turn the page?”. I wanted to avoid having to make a big decision before reading an article. It should be as quick and effortless as possible, as close to how easy it is to start reading an article in a newspaper.

This meant, for me, ditching any kind of conventional news website front page, or contents page. No lists of headlines, no decisions about which article to visit. Unusually, perhaps uniquely, for a news website the front page is a single story. Ideally this is the most important news of the day, although sometimes it’s the newspaper’s “other” front page item — it’s based on the order of articles here. Having a single story on the front page is terrible if a site wants to maximise page views and advertising etc. You might see that one article, think it’s boring, and go elsewhere. But that’s not my concern. I’m trying to make a site that makes it easy to read a newspaper, not support an entire company.

Reducing friction is the toughest of these three issues. There must be many possible design and technical solutions to improve the standard way of providing news to read online.

I also wanted something with high readability. No clutter around the articles, as little navigation as possible, no comments, no distractions (aside from the Guardian’s ads which should appear soon and are a condition of using their API). Freed from the usual corporate constraints, this is very easy to do.

Finally, I wanted finishability. I wanted to be able to read today’s news, know I’d read it all, and that I’m done until tomorrow. Again, this is not too difficult if you’re willing to accept that the contents of the print newspaper is a reasonable solution.

Although the finished site looks nothing like a newspaper I think it has more in common with newspapers’ best features than most news websites do. The sense of browsing quickly through stories and reading the ones that catch your eye, feels similar.

While I’ve had something like this in mind for a year or more, some of the ideas have probably been confirmed in recent months by the arrival of the iPad and apps like BERG’s Popular Science+ and Wired’s, both of which have a similar structure — articles next to each other horizontally. As I was building the site it felt like I was trying to make a website that was as easy to use as an iPad app.

Having said that, the site isn’t currently optimised for the iPad, iPhone or other mobile devices; I hope to do that over the next week or so.

There are probably many ways to achieve these three goals, of improving friction, readability and finishability; Today’s Guardian is one attempt. If you have any comments about the site or the ideas, please post a comment below or email me.

UPDATE: A week later, and I’ve posted another piece about common feature requests. (16 June 2010)

UPDATE 2: I’ve posted the source code at Github. Read more. (17 January 2011)

UPDATE 3: I made some small improvements to the site. Read more. (16 June 2011)

Comments

  • Really nice Phil, especially the sections with their column inch sparklines. I look forward to what that looks like on Saturday. Get yourself a Solero.

  • Nice!

  • Lovely Phil! And great to start today with, thanks.

  • Love it. Good typography makes it easy on the eye. The line length is perfect :)

  • Congratulations and thanks. Your description of the factors underpinning the project is very interesting. I have only one small problem - the site doesn’t display the text of the articles on my aging PowerBook G4 with Firefox 2.0.0.20. Still, should be getting a revamped machine in a few week’s time, so will check back then.

  • Thanks Andrew. I’ll have a look next week, see if I can make it work in Firefox 2.

  • “This decision, about which headline to click on the news website, is a tricky one, with a lot of potential friction involved. If we click the link we’ll have to wait for the next page to load and, once we’ve read the article, we must perform another action to get back to the front page, assuming we want to continue reading — another decision!”

    Why don’t you use “open in background tab”? That’s how I navigate a variety of news websites - I open all the articles on the front page I want to read in background tabs, letting them load, which seems to help cut down on both your waiting time and number of actions needed.

  • I do, but I suspect this isn’t the usual behaviour and I didn’t want to cover every possible variation on how to read a website.

  • As per http://www.mozilla.org/security/known-vulnerabilities/firefox20.html Firefox 2 is no longer supported and contains a number of vulnerabilities. I’d advise you to upgrade; I don’t see why a G4 wouldn’t cope fine with Firefox 3.

  • Like this a lot. If you could reformat it slightly for the iphone, and add an offline download & cache, it might even replace the Guardian App for my daily reading of the Guardian on the train to work.

    One slight niggle, which I’m not sure if you can do anything about: on really short pages (eg where the content is unavailable), the scrollbar disappears, which causes the content column to re-centre itself slightly further right, resulting in a jump which is a bit distracting. It’s a problem common to every fixed-width centred web page design, but more noticeable here due to the smoooth javascript. See http://ryanfait.com/resources/forcing-vertical-scrollbars/ for one way of fixing it…

  • Thanks Frankie. I’ll definitely reformat it for the iPhone; not sure about the cache though, but we’ll see.

    I know what you mean about the scrollbar jiggle - I’ve added it to the list of things to look at. Thanks for the pointer.

  • Nice work Phil, it feels really nice to use, and I agree with Frankie, a swipe’able iphone version would be a joy.

  • Oddly enough I was reflecting earlier on the changes my Guardian reading habits since getting the iPad. I now use the Guardian iPhone app much less and buy fewer paper copies, choosing to go to the main Guardian website via my iPad which, other than the odd Flash-holes, looks pretty good.

    However, whenever I check it, it always looks kinda the same and what has been added since my last visit is not clear. At least with the paper you know absolutely that what’s in today’s edition wasn’t in yesterday’s. I almost want the whole thing to be refreshed every 24 hours at once!!!

    You’re tackling this issue and several others with Today’s Guardian which I’m going to try with interest.

    Excellent post above!!

    Best

    Tim

    (btw swipeable for iPad would definitely be good ;))

  • Lovely, really lovely.

    Just a quick thought about designing for the iPad & iPhone & similar, take a look at my most recent blog post (sorry for the lack of a link, iPads suck for that) about creating resolution-independent line lengths. As long as the layout scales with the available pixels on the device, you should be able to end up with nice looking lines of text (of course, they look lovely right now, on the iPad).

  • A home screen icon for bookmarking it on the iPad/iPhone would be neat too ;)

  • Thank you for your fresh, thought provoking work. An interesting problem that I think you have gone a long way to solving. Congrats on the exposure.

  • The URL under section summary (#section-summary) is broken, you closed the tag after the sentence finished, it links to “guardian.gyford.com/ website”

    A note regarding the application: Something that “confused” me was that the arrows disappeared. I read the first article and scrolled down, I wanted to go to the next article but didn’t see the arrows, I figured after moving my mouse around where I thought they’d be that they fade in and out, however this was pretty confusing as I didn’t see it fade out. An outline of the arrow would be nice, so there’s something there even after fading.

  • Samuel - thanks for the HTML fix.

    Yes, the navigation can be confusing. Usually I err on the side of making things as obvious as possible when it comes to this stuff. The downside of that is that when you’ve worked the navigation out, you still have obvious navigation markers sitting there, which you no longer need — you know where the navigation is. So this time I decided to make it a little un-obvious at first, with the benefit of the site being more beautiful and clutter free when you’ve worked it out. Challenging the user initially for long-term gain, possibly.

  • This is obviously great, as previous commenters have said, and very interesting to read your design rationales.

    Best thing for me? Really simple keyboard navigation - love it.

  • This is just nitpicking, but your capturing of the spacebar to preform actions based on it causes problems if someone uses ‘shift+spacebar’ to go back up the page.

  • Jalada - yes, someone else pointed that out; I will fix it. After all these years I had no idea shift+spacebar did that!

  • This is excellent - this is how I would like to read my newspaper. Only problem - that navigation bar at the top needs to be larger and have more details on the sections - like “Home News” “World News” “Business” “Sport” etc. And it would not hurt to embed a photo and/or graphic. But this deserves a medal. Thanks.

  • Thanks Phil for thinking so comprehensively about reading. I ditched newspapers couple of years back because I was unsatisfied with what I can get from one newspaper. [We don’t have a NYT or Guardian standard newspaper in India.] I use a mix of Google News, a Twitter news list and RSS feeds using Feedly. Most news websites are meant to increase page views and I don’t blame them for it. What I think is that they should experiment more with better advertising - no animation or video. Amount of advertising is killing the quality. How many online ad campaigns can we name compared to the print campaigns?

  • Excelent idea!
    I just had some problem with what should i do know, how do i go to the next page? Some guidance, could be usefull.

  • gustavo - try moving the mouse around… particularly to the right… Also, have you looked at the ‘About’ page?

  • Hey Phil,

    I like this, and I agree with your observations about the newspaper vs. the website.

    I think the only thing missing from your site that a newspaper has is a bit of a teaser of some of the days issues to let you know if it will be worth reading. Normally (at least here in Aus) a broadsheet will have about 4 topics on the front of the paper that give you an idea of what is in store. So if I see on the front page of the Australian that they have a bunch of articles with a right wing slant about a recent tax, I might be more inclined to read the Sydney Morning Herald because it has some articles that I find interesting.

    I’m not sure if this is something that you’d want to implement, but it might be something worth experimenting with. You could have 5 headlines without extra detail, then you just hit next and start reading. They could be marked out on the little graph that you have, say in red so that you know where those teasers are as an incentive to keep clicking through.

    Another site you might be interested in is newsmap.jp

    Anyway, I think what you’ve done is pretty impressive. I’d like to read it, but I’m not sure if there would be enough in the Guardian for me to consider having read the required dose of news for the day as an Aussie :)

  • Hi Phil,

    Great to see some very well thought out and executed ideas on presenting articles and stories online. Certainly makes one inspired to try new ideas.

    Michael

  • Excellent use of an API and very well executed. Keyboard navigation, sit back with a cup of tea…

  • Very nice. Works great on my laptop, although I tend to prefer reading on my HTC Desire. When I tried this out and zoomed in on the column, the navigation bars became detached and floated themselves over the text. So a swipe action would definitely be nicer - but I appreciate you haven’t designed this for phones, etc. A great use of the Guardian’s API.

  • What are the varying height bars at the top for? It looks like some kind of infographic but I can’t click on them to jump to the next page..?

  • Hej Phil! I am truly impressed, not only with the launch of “Today’s Guardian,” but also with the thought you put into it. I share all your views on the obstacles to reading a news site on the web, but I doubt I could ever have grouped them into three succinct headings.

    I wish to appear too gushing, but I really wonder if this is the beginning of a revolution in the way we read on-line newspapers. Congratulations.

    Finishability has always been an issues for me, and I share your comments on the Guardian’s iPhone app. Wonderful though it is many ways, there is so much friction, and I have no idea what I have read or not.

    I feel a bit mean for making the following piece of feedback, given how deep your solution is: Have you considered allowing a way to either return to where one left off (or even allow sliding the orange marker)? And for the links (i.e. where distribution rights are limited, can they be opened in a new tab/window (yes, I know, I can CMD/click!). Thanks again!

  • Peter, the bars represent the length of each article.

    Nic, yes, others have suggested being able to navigate using the bar at the top. Still thinking about that, as it would be fiddly in use I suspect. And no, links will always open the standard way.

  • I like it. I like it. I like it.

  • oh and thankyou.

  • This is absolutely brilliant. I’d love to see if some sort of ‘big picture’ style image-heavy accompaniment would be possible, so you could switch between browsing text in the best way (which this is) and images.

  • This is really very impressive. Well done, and thank you.

  • This is very good. There is only one aspect of the experience that is problematic for me but that is a big problem: scrolling. The momentary disorientation the readers experiences after every scroll makes reading this way hard. I notice on the ipad Wired magazine app that they scroll vertically but each scroll is essentially the same as turning the page. You know where to put your eyes. I think different viewing sizes within web browsers make maintaining the integrity of each page a challenge but not doing basically means this is just as hard for me as reading any other web news source.

  • Insightful article. I think you’re on the right track with the Today’s Guardian. After trying it out once, my only “complaint” is that there isn’t more detail on the sections (Business, Technology, World, UK, etc.) at the top. I only read certain sections of the Guardian, so being forced to page through the entire paper to find articles relevant to that section reduces the otherwise excellent news-reading experience. (Ideally, the user could select which sections they read daily, and only those would be listed at the top.) I do like how you portrayed the quantity and length of pages, and current placement within them. I especially agree with your point on finishability.

  • I love this article. It’s rare to find an in-depth considered look at the things that we do every day in any website (not just in news). I’ve been building/reading news-y websites for a long time, and while I’ve come up with some similar opinions expressed in this article, I have never seen it articulated in this way.

    I do have one quibble with the concept of friction as related to the web. News on the web has been around for about 20 years now, and our habits and expectations have changed. People are no longer willing to accept the “what’s behind the next page” mystery anymore. We’ve practiced our ability to filter out information on a cursory level (reducing our own friction for decision making). This approach you’ve created is elegant, but it increases friction accidentally. Now instead of getting the content I’m interested in, I’m getting whatever content is coming out of the server next. In addition to that, I’m getting the same content over an over again. This is not a fault of the application itself, but the producers and editors of the content are generating the same information into several different articles. Might there not be some mechanism that can be used to reduce the randomization of the next article by providing the reader with either option? A manner of seeing the list of articles coming and either choosing to read them now, later or never (even potentially marking articles as “trash” or “not interesting”).

    I love the elegant approach of your design, and I think the reduction in clutter focuses more attention on the article which is where it should be in the first place (because that’s what I’m there to read).

    This is an outstanding article, and I will be forwarding it to my entire work section for review.

  • Thanks Francis. I’ve just posted a new piece which addresses your thoughts about the sections a little.

    Joel, thanks for your thoughts. I see what you mean about my site increasing a different kind of friction. I see it more as a way to almost “give up” on making too many decisions. Yes, you’ll see stuff you don’t necessarily want to read but I think it’s easier, with the article in front of you, to decide not to read it and move on, than to decide whether or not to read it from the headline. I also, personally, find I start reading articles I wouldn’t normally even consider clicking through to from a normal news website.

    Yes, you’re getting “whatever content is coming out of the server next”, just as when reading a paper you’re getting whatever content has been printed next. So long as the hit rate is high enough, and you’re not having to skip too many articles, this is OK. Maybe there’s something different about how we expect to read online and off — online we have less time, and are rushing more, and so have higher standards compared to if we’re sitting on the sofa with a newspaper.

    I’m not sure what you mean about “randomization” and getting the “same content over and over again”. All of the articles in each day’s issue are different, and appear in the order the Guardian lists them on their site. They do often have several articles about one story from different points of view.

  • Phil,

    This is a great idea and a great start. Right now, the major problem seems to be loss of state between sessions — if I stop reading, there is no way to return to a specific article (something I can do in the paper edition pretty easily!). This is particularly bad on, say, the iPad which has the habit of reloading the page even if I don’t close the window.

    Or am I missing something?

  • I’ll second the comment that it would be nice if it remembered how far through I got this morning.

    For those nowhere near to GMT, it would also be nice to have some indication (perhaps just on the about page) of when in the day it rolls over. I suppose I will learn eventually.

    But mostly, thank you so much for making this, it is wonderful. If someone doesn’t make one of these for The Economist too I’ll probably turn into a raving communist before the year is out…

  • Improbable, it seems that the paper rolls over sometime around midnight GMT. But the articles and stories, and their order, seems to change slightly during the day. At the moment my site stops looking for any new versions at 7am GMT.

  • fantastic work!

  • Thank you for this, it is eminently usable, beautiful, and shows a way out of the 1ms attention span clown pants chaos the web has become. I actually read articles. read. And I am not even a Brit.

    Wow.

  • Fantastic, impressive, inspirational work.

    I recently received the briefing for the redesign of the epaper section of a national Dutch newspaper. Their plan is to take images of the actual printed newspaper and make them pannable and zoomable á la Google Maps. Why go to such lengths to conserve a layout that wasn’t made with screens in mind?

    I didn’t take the job and instead sent them a link to Today’s Guardian.

  • Today’s Guardian’s a great way to read the Guardian on the web - I find the Guardian website bewildering in all the options to click to. This makes it so simple - no decisions to make!

    It’s fantastic that now Today’s Guardian remembers where I last was if, for example, I go to a link to an article that the Guardian won’t let you display and then return. However this has one drawback I’ve noticed on using the site on Chrome; I find that my browser remembers the previous day’s session well into the next day and the only way I have found to override this is to go and delete the cookies for guardian.gyford.com.

    It would be great if there were a way to delete the cookies - not automatically though, because I may want to continue to read yesterday’s paper :-)

  • Thanks Jeff, I’m glad you like it.

    I’m not sure what you mean about Chrome though. The stories change from one day to the next — what does it do exactly when you return the next day? (I don’t use Chrome and won’t be able to test it until next week.)

  • Looks like it must have just been a problem with Chrome on Mac and now the issue has disappeared. Thanks for the quick response though.

  • I’ve just happened across this… I love it, it’s great.

    What would would be the icing on the cake is if the output could be made into an ebook to be sent to the Amazon Kindle for reading away from the computer!

  • My son, who is a web developer, and who I gather knows you slightly, showed me this today. It is really excellent! I pay the Guardian £12 each month to be able to read it online, but the current version of the online edition is horrible in various ways. The worst feature is that, as you move round the page trying to read it, the cursor seems to get stuck to the page so you can’t use it reliably to move the page the way you want it to go. You therefore have to carefully click on the little tab which pops up at the bottom of the screen in an area where nothing else happens, whereupon the cursor function goes back to what it is supposed to be.

    What I want is a quick and easy way of reading the main stories, and what you have set up provides exactly that. Oddly, the Guardian provided something on those lines, or at any rate nearer to it,when they initially launched their online edition.I hope someone on the Guardian website team is reading this, as I am very happy to go on paying for the Guardian, but it is ridiculous if what I actually read is a superior free version provided by you! As it is very quick to move from one article to the next I would be perfectly happy if they wanted to include advertisements between stories if that is an issue.

  • Tried it out on an iPad. It wasn’t obvious what to do (there are no next / previous areas with big arrows on the iPad). If you do a specific version for the iPad, why make it worse? Why don’t you just show us the normal version (with the big arrows always visible, of course, because there are no mouseovers on a touchscreen).

  • Yes Ries, I set out specifically to make it worse for the iPad.

    Think of it as an intelligence test.

  • Missing articles from Today’s Guardian

    Firstly I must say, I love what you’ve done with Today’s Guardian, I visit most days.

    My enquiry is about Thursday’s food features which are sometimes (this, last week & earlier) missing from Today’s Guardian, although they are published on the Guardian’s website and in the paper. There aren’t even “Redistribution rights for the article body are unavailable” pages for these articles.

    Does the Guardian not release them on their API..?

    Cheers,

    David

  • David, are the missing articles listed here http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/all ? That’s where my site currently gets its list of today’s articles from, so it could be they’re missing there…? There might be a more robust way to get the list, via the API, these days, but I haven’t looked recently.

  • I find Today’s Guardian almost perfect for viewing the Guardian on my iPhone. However today its rendering appears to be different than previously - the text is smaller and it runs slightly off the right of the page.

    See http://img690.imageshack.us/i/imagepus.jpg/ for a screenshot (cropped top and bottom only).

  • Hi Jeff. I made some changes to the site yesterday, hence the smaller text (too small do you think?). Sorry about the text disappearing off the right. Very strange. I’ll try and look into that later today.

  • Thanks for getting back so quickly. And great that you’ve been updating it. Especially now it slides from page to page without jumping.

    The following image shows the issue even more http://img219.imageshack.us/i/imageor.jpg/ - as you can see there is spillover from the previous page on the left.

  • Thanks Jeff - it should be fixed now.

  • Thank for sorting it, however now I can see it properly I do think the text is a little bit too small for the iPhone. It’s significantly smaller than the Guardian’s mobile pages on the iPhone. Maybe something in between the two?

  • I’ve just made some tweaks, which mean the text should be slightly bigger on the iPhone now. I’m not sure if it’s big enough, but I’ll give it a while for me to try it properly before tweaking again.

    The site should now also cope better if the phone is rotated while you’re reading.

Photos taken 9 Jun 2010

9 Jun 2010 at Twitter

  • 07:54am: I made this: Today's Guardian, a website that makes it easy to read today's edition of the paper: http://guardian.gyford.com/
  • 07:56am: If you like Today's Guardian, it has an account for updates: @todaysguardian. I won't re-tweet its contents here, I'm not that annoying.
  • 08:04am: You can read lots, lots more of the thinking behind my Today's Guardian site here: http://bit.ly/c6X2hj
  • 08:22am: @megp I've no idea about the ads - I haven't done anything to stop them appearing, but it looks like only 1x1 px gifs are being requested.
  • 08:24am: @mikebutcher Neither Flash nor HTML5. It's old-fashioned HTML4 and Javascript (jQuery if you want to get into the details).
  • 08:52am: @mikebutcher It works OK on the iPad but could look nicer - updates coming within the next week.
  • 08:54am: @mikebutcher I haven't removed the ads, but for some reason the Guardian API isn't serving them at the moment - I'm sure they'll fix it!
  • 08:55am: @caxtonian Yes, navigation could maybe be better for iPad/iPhone. And tweaks with sizing etc.
  • 08:59am: @mikebutcher At the mo I think they only have banners at the end of articles, but they're marked "Bottom", so there may be others in future.
  • 09:51am: @mikebutcher Should be OK. Shared server, but I have nothing else on there and it's static HTML files.
  • 09:51am: @RobertAndrews It works on an iPad but could look better - updates coming next week.
  • 09:52am: @8lettersuk If you know I haven't complied with the T&Cs, point out which bits. Or are you making things up?
  • 09:53am: @tomstuart I am thinking about that. A few potential issues, so we'll see. Thanks.
  • 12:05pm: Weird. It costs £19.18 *more* to buy a download version of Adobe Photoshop CS5 than it does to have the box shipped to you. Why's that?
  • 12:17pm: @antimega @smagdali @macintosh Ah, EU VAT ta. Weird. Yes, I was looking at Ps + Lightroom too @antimega.
  • 12:18pm: @dracos It's especially silly when the Adobe site says you can save money on shipping costs by getting the download version!
  • 12:19pm: @mattmcalister Thanks. It breaks the first article a bit, just because I don't know how big the image will be, but I'll work round it.
  • 12:32pm: @8lettersuk http://www.guardian.co.uk/open... must contradict the more general T&Cs then.
  • 12:37pm: @8lettersuk No problem - AFAIK I'm complying with the API T&Cs. The ads were broken at the Guardian's end, but they've fixed things now.
  • 12:40pm: @jwheare Ooh, good tip, ta.
  • 01:09pm: @pc_pro Email me (phil @ gyford dot com) and I'll send it to you (I can't DM you).
  • 01:35pm: @blech One or two people have mentioned the keyboard shortcuts. No idea how many have discovered them though.
  • 02:05pm: Hoping for a story about @todaysguardian which doesn't mis-spell one of my names. http://bit.ly/bIIjZv Third time lucky maybe...

9 Jun 2010 in Comments elsewhere

Today’s Guardian is The Guardian re-imagined for the iPad
Thanks for the post and the kind words Mike, but three quibbles: The headline is misleading: the site isn’t “for the iPad”. If anything it’s “for the web”, and tries to make a website that is as easy and quick…

On this day I was reading


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