TNR has addressed the image treatment/article heading problems we earlier this year filed under “discounted countenance” and “face of the faceless.” I never attempted to capture all aspects of that prior design or re-design or pre-re-re-design, but other elements have also been adjusted, with mixed to dysfunctional results.
As for the image treatments, this:
has replaced this:
The re-re-design also makes a “search” box more prominent, as will be obvious in a comparison of the top areas in the above two images. The old search was hard to find, so the new placement and familiar magnifying-glass icon qualify as an improvement up to average, but the actual search implementation is still hinky.
Like many touchscreen- rather than desktop-oriented implementations, the design encourages “tapping-to-get-to” rather than visual scanning. More problematic, and I suspect indirectly related, it yields unexpected and even frustrating results. When I tried searching for articles on or by individuals of interest, I at first got an apparently ludicrously small number of hits: It looked at first as though the New Republic in all of it archives managed a total of three or four pieces mentioning, say, “Nixon” or “John Judis” – with no immediately apparent option for improving the results.
When I start over and return to the original search pop-up – an intermediate menu – I can find a fourth choice, in a group next to “Topics,” that gets me to a more conventional paginated results list representing hundreds of hits on “Nixon.” If there are advanced features for narrowing the results, there are no indications, and there is no “help” or “information” option.
Finding works by particular authors can be even trickier: It turns out that if you enter an author’s last name, you can eventually find your way to his or her author page with a (seemingly) comprehensive list of articles, but, if you’re too specific with a name, you might find yourself wondering if someone you like to read at TNR has been fired and turned into a non-person: A search for “John B Judis” yields no results. A search for “John Judis” yields only two results on an apparent “John Judis” author page. A search for “Judis” gives you a choice of authors “John B Judis” and “John Judis.” It turns out that the former links to the archive you really want – unless you happen to want one of the two articles that show up on the “John Judis” page but not on the “John B Judis” page. So, “John B Judis” is the name-title and part of the slug/URL for the generated archive page, even though “John B Judis” is a zero searchwise. Such glitches are likely artifacts of the search implementation (how it indexes content), a common but not insuperable challenge, probably compounded by trendy “mobile-first” design assumptions already mentioned.
What’s perhaps a bit more odd is that TNR seems, probably unintentionally, to be de-emphasizing authorship, and not just with generic, content-minimal (no bios), on-the-fly, incidentally difficult-to-find author pages. Clickable author by-lines do appear on the home page and single-post pages, and lead to the author pages, but are nowhere to be found on category main pages – for “The Latest” or “Magazine” or “The Plank” (TNR’s multi-author blog) – and the re-re-design does not anywhere offer a consolidated menu or masthead of authors. If I were a TNR writer trying to build my “personal brand” – which is what we all live for in 2014, of course – I’d be annoyed, but, sooner rather than later, I suspect, someone influential will recognize or be induced to recognize the defect, or consequential insult, and make amends.