I love the new WSJ.com. It’s clean, intuitive, elegant, easy to read, and blazingly fast. I should imagine that subscribers will spend a lot more time there now than they were spending up until now, just because the site is so much better.
The continued existence of the subscription firewall is unfortunate, and its abolition would make the site better still: there’s no way for a website to do firewalls elegantly, although the designers here have done the best they can. And I’m extremely disappointed that amidst the top-to-bottom redesign, no one bothered to touch the WSJ’s atrocious search function, which sits in the middle of the shiny new site like a fusty old tramp. It even still opens links in horrible tiny new windows — couldn’t they have fixed that at least?
But overall the resdesign gets a solid A. Every page looks thought-out and coherent, like it was designed by a really smart human rather than dynamically put together by a dumb computer. The index pages, in particular, have a lovely mix of stories and pull quotes and market data and video and other features: they actually add value, rather than simply being a regrettable stopping-off point on your way to a story.
And today, on a huge day for the markets, the WSJ has felt no compunctions about having no display ads on the first screen that subscribers see: you need to scroll down a long way until you find one. That’s allowed them to devote the full width of the site to a lovely yet fast-loading interactive graphic, which puts the decline in financials into their proper year-long perspective rather than concentrating solely on what happened yesterday.
I haven’t explored the much-vaunted "community" features yet, and frankly there’s a good chance I never will. But I have a feeling I’m going to be spending quite a lot of time over at wsj.com from now on in, just because it’s so much of a nicer place to be than its competitors like ft.com or bloomberg.com.