YDR Insider

Part of the USA Today Network

Our goal for readers of ydr.com: ‘A navigation experience worth paying for’

The design or look of ydr.com and our news organization’s other websites display the work of our visual department more prominently than previous designs. (We call it a visual department because it produces photos, graphics, videos, livestream feeds, among other things.) Above is a sample from what we call ydr.com’s ‘viewer.’ For a look at ydr.com’s first design in 1996 see: Web, mobile, tablet technology causes revisions in York, Pa., news media history.  

In preparing for installation of paid content  – a paywall – on our websites, we concentrated in improving workflows in two key areas.

We accelerated our immediacy or the number of times we were updating the site from “all the time” to “constantly.”

And we worked to make the site’s user experience as inviting as possible through improved site navigation… .

We’ve written about immediacy several  times on YDR Insider.

Now, we’re turning to navigation experience. And who better to discuss than online and community-news editor Joan Concilio.

Joan has been through most of the seven or so redesigns we’ve introduced since the launch of ydr.com in 1996.

She writes:

“Our navigation system on the ydr.com home page has been several years in the making. As background, I’ve worked for the YDR since 1999, and when I started here, our home page featured a single top story in each of several categories: Local, Business, Sports, Living, etc.

“Over time, we expanded that to include more stories, and later, we moved to a tabbed system that included only “top stories” (from our print front page) on the home page, and then asked readers to click a tab for a listing of sports stories, or business, and so on.

“Our most successful incarnations so far have included the top headlines from a variety of topics, and that’s feedback we’ve taken into the current approach. At the same time, earlier designs that had relatively few navigation points, but made it easy for people to go to the sections in which they were most interested, received fewer complaints in terms of loading speed and graphic design, so we tried to incorporate that approach, too, limiting our number of headlines and opting for fewer graphics.

“Speaking of graphics, we’re pleased with our current layout because it features our top photos and videos more prominently than ever before, while still keeping load time reasonable. We value the work of our visual journalists, and we don’t want to be “all text, all the time!”

I guess to sum it up, our current design is our attempt to take the best of all worlds to create what Managing Editor Randy Parker calls “a navigation experience worth paying for.”

What are your thoughts about the user experience on ydr.com and our other sites: flipsidepa.com, inyork.com, gametimepa.com and yorkblog.com?

Do you find them easy to use and can you find what you’re looking for?

Also of interest

Love the symmetry here. Our news organization traces its roots to Die York Gazette, a weekly newspaper published in 1796 – 200 years before the introduction of ydr.com in the horrid blizzard of 1996. In its day, York’s first German-language newspaper was as revolutionary as its first news website, ydr.com.


York County newspaper staff powers coverage through blizzard, electrical shutdown and York Daily Record/Sunday News’ website recently passed its 15th anniversary and York County, Pa., journalism goes back to the future.