Nifty Spin on a Portal Display at MSNBC.com

This has been around a while, but I enjoy the pattern, so… here is my take.

What caught my eye?
Focus. I love big letters and numbers for headers and key bits of info. The headline here caught my eye as I scrolled down the page and anchored the portlet very affectively. I enjoy the control I appear to have with the options at the top (how many stories, placement/priority of the portlet). Those simple controls were enough to make me futz with the portlet and already begin to engage with the page in a personalized way. The fact that the number represents all of the stories in the portlet was not entirely clear until I used it.

What I like:

  1. The grid is askew. The fact that each section is given its own space within a a more complex grid (more than 4 equal columns) allows the sections to appear in a readable way suitable for the content.
  2. The fonts are readable and assist in the design. The large font anchors the section, the font for each story is well spaced for reading, the blue is clearly clickable and the grey gets out of the way.
  3. The story of the section is laid out for me. I can get a pretty good sense of what I am going to find within the “Business” section of the site. This is especially helped by the “Topics” area of the portlet (you’re not a true media site if you don’t have a “topics” section yet).
  4. There is a good futz-factor. The links are clear and the display is simple enough that I feel like I know what will happen when I click them (i.e., enough to not be afraid to futz with the “Move Box”).
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