Published on July 27th, 2015

Homepage layout matters. It affects what people view on a website and what they remember from the news.

Across a series of three experiments, we analyzed what happens when people are given the same news content presented in different ways. Some of our 2,671 participants browsed a site with a classic newsprint layout, while others looked at a page with a contemporary, modular and image-based layout. The same 20 articles, drawn from mainstream news media coverage about evergreen subjects, appeared on both sites.

The results were striking:

  • Unique page views increased by at least 90 percent when participants viewed the contemporary homepage compared to the classic homepage.
  • Recall of details from the articles, although low for all participants, nonetheless increased by at least 50 percent when participants viewed the contemporary homepage compared to the classic homepage.
  • Study participants rated the contemporary site more positively than the classic site.
  • Where the articles appeared on the page affected article recall more consistently than whether people clicked on the article.


  • Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud

    Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud

    Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is the founding and current Director of the Center for Media Engagement and Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book, Niche News: The Politics of News Choice, received the Outstanding Book Award from the International Communication Association, and inspired the early development of the Center. Her research examines the use and effects of political news content.

  • Alex Curry

    Alex Curry
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    Alex Curry (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Media Engagement. His research interests include political communication and civic engagement, and he is particularly interested in how sports tie people to their community and to each other. From 2005 to 2010, he served as a writer for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he’s not working, Alex enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife and kids.

  • Arielle Cardona

    Arielle Cardona
    Research Associate

    Arielle Cardona (MA, University of Texas at Austin) worked for the Center for Media Engagement from 2014 to 2015. She is a recent graduate of the UT Communication Studies program, where she studied women in politics and online political discourse. Prior to her MA, Arielle received her bachelor’s degree in communications at the University of Arizona.

  • Cynthia Peacock

    Cynthia Peacock
    Faculty Research Associate

    Cynthia Peacock (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies department at the University of Alabama. She is interested in political communication and news use. Her most recent research investigates the contexts in which people express and avoid expressing their political opinions, and the ways in which diverse opinion expression and disagreement take place in political discussions.