Last night at Refresh DC event, some of the team members who are responsible for the redesign of USA Today online shared their design, development and implementation process. With the relaunch their goal is to set the industry-wide benchmark for online news. They moved completely away from the heavy-ad trend to focus on the users. They ditched web site and gear toward web app.
They went through many revisions to incorporate more video, media and gallery into the design. They wanted to offer a much richer experience for the users, especially for tablet readers. The relaunch was striking in design, but facing negative criticisms. The users who come to USA Today don’t want rich media, gallery or large photos. They just want to read the content. The team is now working on the next release to focus on creating a true reading experience.
Some of the front-end technical challenges they presented were also useful. I am a bit surprised that they are not using any preprocessor to manage CSS. Given that they are using many new elements of CSS3 animation, a preprocessor would help them tremendously with just vendor prefixes. One of the reasons they stay away from using preprocessor was that they don’t want to produce too much nested selectors. I disagree completely because they don’t have to create nested selectors if they don’t want to. A preprocessor like Sass doesn’t make them do anything they don’t want to.