TAKEAWAY The term dinosaur acquires a different meaning when applied to newspapers—but some websites qualify for the description, too.
Graphic by Reed Reibstein / García Media
Ok, so it must be the term du jour: dinosaur.
I have heard it mentioned at least three times in the past week alone, in three different countries. Two times in a newsroom setting, once by a non media acquaintance referring to his local newspaper.
We all have seen the movies Jurassic Park and A Night at the Museum, so we do know what dinosaurs are, how they move gingerly but are focused on their prey, giants that manage to delight and scare.
The latest reference to a dinosaur—this time in writing—was via The Guardian.
Here is a highlight:
British journalists have a bit of a habit of sneering at our American counterparts. Between the seemingly endless news stories, the Habit Of Capitalising Everything, and especially the headlines – “Letter Raises Questions About When BBC Ex-Chief Learned of Abuse Cases” a recent standout – lots of American journalism, on the face of it, can seem a bit quaint.
With the onslaught of the digital era continuing apace, that quaintness starts to look dangerous: in an age of short attention spans, SEO headlines and upstart online-only rivals, the US’s major papers look like dinosaurs.
The full article:
Washington Post appears to be a dinosaur – but has already evolved
Its core, influential – and paying – print audience in the US capital is backed up by a forward-thinking online presence
What is interesting—if not disturbing—is the fact that the term dinosaur is usually attached to a printed newspaper, not to any of the other platforms.
Yet, there are some online editions out there that qualify for the term. And not very far into 2013 we will probably be able to apply the term to tablet editions. Gasp! Yes, that’s how quickly one turns into a dinosaur in today’s media environment.
A dinosaur online edition is a website that is cluttered, lacking in navigational intelligence and where every little section represented in the site has a navigator button leading you to it. In fact, in a recent blog post, Mario García Jr. discussed the subject at length:
The biggest problem I see with news or other high-content websites is clutter. Clutter is never good anywhere, let alone a website that is supposed to be engaging readers and passing along information, especially in this day and age when users are scanning for the elements that are relevant to them or offer value.
I am beginning to think that the term dinosaur assumes a different meaning in our society where things change so rapidly, 140 characters at a time. Indeed, if someone tells you that a thought is so “15 minutes ago” that means that you are entering dinosaur territory. Be careful.
These are examples of situations described by people around me as “dinosaur” behavior. Can you imagine any of these in this day and age?
—A newspaper with all centered headlines
—A newspaper with a sports section still as a broadsheet
—A newspaper with classified section, TV listings and stock listings
and, as The Guardian article mentioned
—-The “habit of capitalizing everything”
We must make sure that we are not accused of dinosaur behavior by simply adhering to principles that were as good 50 years ago as they are today. To me, those principles include following the basics of good publication design: the classic styles that never enter dinosaur territory, the emphasis on clean and easy to navigate pages/screens, the effective use of typography that is elegant and legible; the organization of elements on a page or screen so that one element dominates. Indeed, whether we center a headline or use capital letters or white space is a design decision that one makes regarding a particular and specific project. If it works, we should not worry about the fact that someone has referred to this as dinosaur behavior.
Who knows? Perhaps we are still quite proud of what someone today might refer to as a dinosaur moment.
Dinosaur behavior, like so much of what we do in our business, may be highly subjective.
For more on those cluttered “dinosaur” websites, see Mario Garcia Jr.’s piece:
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Purchase the book on the iBookstore
The EPUB version of book is HERE:
Now available: The EPUB version of iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet, ready for download via Amazon.com for Kindle:
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Read the Society of Publication Designers’ review of The iPad Design Lab here:
Keep up with Mario Garcia Jr.. via Garcia Interactive: helping transform online news since 1995.
Here’s a gift you don’t have to wrap!
It’s official. The Christmas/holiday shopping season is here.
Here is a suggestion for someone on your list: my digital book iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet. No need to stand in line nor buy wrapping paper. Just send it to someone you think might enjoy a book about this magnificent new platform we call the tablet and how to maximize its potential for storytelling.
Here is how you can get the book:
The original version of the book is the multitouch textbook version available on the iBookstore for iPad (iOS 5.0 and up): https://itunes.apple.com/book/ipad-design-lab/id565672822. This version includes video walkthroughs, audio introductions to each chapter, swipeable slideshows, a glossary and a sophisticated look and feel.
Apple only sells multitouch textbooks in certain countries at this time, unfortunately. Copies are available in at least the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and the United States.
For those in other countries and without an iPad, we have made the book available in a basic edition for other platforms. This basic edition includes the full text of the original, along with the images and captions, but lacks the other features such as audio and video. It is available on the following platforms in many countries:
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/SlPzjZ
Google Books: http://bit.ly/TYKcew