USA Today.. For Tomorrow

Megan Isaak / Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Recently, USA Today overhauled the branding across all their platforms. Many parts of the site were becoming dated and the changes were long overdue.

The difference is amazing. The sites are now night and day. Here are a few things that I noticed:


1. Logo

I love the new logo. It’s fresh, it doesn’t step too far away from their old logo but it allows you to still recognize the brand. However, I do wonder if they could have done something a bit more creative than a circle. Is a circle and the name of publication really a logo or just the title?

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2. Color Coded Sections

One of my favorite things that they did with the new site is the way they handled the obvious color coding USA Today has been using for years. I’m glad that they kept it. It’s something that we, as users, have come to know. Even if it is on the subconscious level, we’re able to associate color with type of content. But what I love about it is the subtle approach they took this time around.



Another area that maintains the association between color and content is in the articles on the home page. Each article is tagged with the section they belong to and the color becomes prominent in the rollover state. The hover state has a background color associated with the section to which it belongs.

Screen Shot 2012-10-10 at 10.04.38 AM

3. Visual Content

People scan websites and tablets in order to get information they need quickly and easily. At a high level, the new site supports this by enabling users to consume information visually instead of reading.


What interests me is why they choose to go this route on the website but not on the tablet? The tablet layout is much more reminiscent of an actual newspaper. It still has visual imagery similar to the website but is laid out like an actual newspaper. Another curious fact: Even though I took the screen shots of the website and table within moments of each other, the feature story on each is different (website – Supreme Court, tablet – Apple). Is the content being prioritized based on the medium? Hmmmmm.


I came across a great feature on the website that I like. It changes the grid view (including images) into a list view. However, once made this option doesn’t follow you through the site. This feature allows the user to choose how they want information presented, but just for that page. You’d have to switch to list view again each time you change sections. clip_image009


4. The New Experience.

A major addition to the site is that there are now arrows on the left and right edges of the screen that allow sequential scrolling forward and back. I use USA Today as one of my main news sources and I find that I’m still taking my mouse to the navigation at the top of the screen and using the traditional links to go into different sections. It makes for a strange experience not being a touch device. I could see the tablet user going this route perhaps, but they didn’t build the iPad app using this interaction model. The site is responsive which means that the arrows become useful when visiting the website from a tablet or phone. However, users of the mobile app don’t have this design feature. Overall, it feels like the website and mobile design teams would benefit from a little more communication.


5. The details make a difference.

As a designer, I know that details are what can really change the feel of a site. What makes the USA Today redesign a home run in my opinion is the details. Every drop-shadow and texture was thoughtfully placed. Here are some of the details I love:


I like how they added the ribbon wrapping around for more information on the story.


the close button overlaps the lightbox


When viewing a story the sharing and commenting options lock on the bottom of the screen so they are always available.


The icons at the bottom were very well designed. The shadow also gives the page the 3 dimensional look of lifting off the page.



I find some of the experience of using the site a bit awkward but overall the redesign of the USA Today site is amazing. I think that it should be able to take the website into the next phase of News. I’m interested to see if other sites will follow their lead.