Today, a friend shared a link to the New York Times Chrome Web App on Facebook. My first reaction was: Wow! My second reaction was to think of one of my favorite quotes by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
The web app appears to be just a web page — a very nicely designed web page. And in effect, we might as well simply think of it that way. There may be benefits, such as content management, etc., for the publisher because it is a web app, but we can enjoy it by any name.
Probably the most important app feature is that users can customize the look and feel of the app, while maintaining the same content. To really appreciate it, you must see — and play around with — it.
The experience is like reading a “real” newspaper – only in a slightly better layout (and if you don’t like the layout, you can select from ten custom options). From the home screen one can see several headlines, some photos and short snippets of the articles. Navigation for the various sections of the app is located on the right side of the home screen. Click on an article and it pops open in a nice, full-screen reader. Scrolling from page to page of an article can be done by mouse click or arrow key.
The app (of course) works with Google’s Chrome browser, but it also seems to work (with a few hiccups) in Firefox. And best of all, it works on Apple’s iPad – even swiping to turn pages. Surprisingly, there are very few ads in the app.
This web app is a great example of quality by design. While it looks so simple, it probably took the New York Times folks a lot of thought and planning to make this a very simple, clear, and elegant user experience. Well done.
Do take a look at this app and let me know what you think.
Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms