Research

Contemporary vs. Classic Design

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.

Researchers

Alex Curry

Faculty Research Associate

Arielle Cardona

Research Associate

Cynthia Peacock

Faculty Research Associate