What you see below are my early (very, very early) outlines of a WordPress theme that I’m working on. After the Revenue Two Point Zero Conference posted the ideas that came out of that I’ve been tossing this idea around in my head for building a better news theme for WordPress sites.
The screenshots below (click for larger images) are just the really rough drafts that I sketched out in a couple minutes.
If you’d like to see a more functioning demo then head over to my development page. This will also be kept up to date as I work on this.
First, some key points/goals with this design:
A much wider design than is traditional In order to take advantage of today’s wider displays the site is 1100 pixels wide. This may prove to be a bit too wide, but it will be at least 1050.
Remove ads from the homepage Keep them on article pages and limit it to one (extremely relevant) ad on that page.
Redesign category pages Category pages will be based off of the homepage and will work on the premise that if a reader wants an article from a long time ago they will search for it or browse the archives by month, etc. By not needing to allow for every article posted in that category to appear I’ll be able to make the category pages much more specific to their subject. Look for a scoreboard on the Sports page, a breaking news section on the News page, and much, much more.
Make it easy to incorporate videos, Twitter, etc. This has already been beaten to death elsewhere, but any news site that doesn’t think about incorporating these features is worthless in my eyes.
What I want to do with this is put some of what Rev2Oh thought about into practice. My initial design started with the homepage. For a while now I’ve been frustrated with newspaper homepages. Sure, they get a ton of information conveyed, but they do it in such an inefficient fashion. Because of the prominent placement for banner ads the content keeps getting pushed further down the page. My goal is to remove the ads and make the homepage something that people can look at quickly and then move on to actual articles (after all, that is what we want web users to do right?).
To this extent the homepage is designed to be a sort of digest. It’ll give a few key highlights of various sections, include some of the most photo-ready stories but ultimately its goal is to get readers to explore the site further.
The second thing that I thought of was article pages. Again, working off of the Rev2Oh model I wanted to incorporate one large ad that doesn’t distract but perhaps adds to the content. The analogy that Rev2Oh and others have used of designing a page like a magazine is a good one and it’s what I’m working with here.
Another feature for the articles is an “About the author box.” This will make it easy for readers to get a quick sense of the author. It’ll have a picture, short bio, and perhaps one more thing.
The article pages will also incorporate two narrow columns under the ad which will be able to display whatever someone wants them too. This will be a place for more features via plugins, etc.
There are definitely somethings that still haven’t been ironed out yet (a footer for one) and some things that will just be changed before the final version, but this is what I’m working with right now. Any thoughts, comments, etc. are more than welcome in the comments.
Update: I’ve got the prototype for article pages up now to. Check it out here.