Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kudos to Isthmus

Excuse me while I enthuse for a moment and congratulate Isthmus on their marvelously functional database-driven redesign of their website. The future of the news business clearly belongs to media that intelligently combine print and online capabilities, and the Madison weekly is a clear leader in the expansion into cyberspace among local print media, with a site that is much more appealing than the confusing site of the local dailies. Among other things, they provide a clean interface that resists the temptation to turn as many square inches of screen space as possible into advertising.

Not only does Isthmus have good local event coverage and some of the best reviewers in town, but their slick integration with local bloggers is beginning to fill in for the absence of a large reporting staff, providing a new version of the kind of daily local coverage we used to only be able to get from a daily newspaper. And what I really admire is the slick, intelligent design of their website. For example, I haven't read much by Jennifer Smith, but when I read her review of the Sol LeWitt show at MMoCA and wondered what else she had written, all I had to do was click on her byline, and a clickable list of her stories showed up. Computer technology makes this easy to do, but all to often they're not programmed to deliver these simple, pleasing touches. Thanks, Isthmus.

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