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Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by yawatide(f): 1:36pm On Nov 20, 2008
The next time someone says your site sucks, without reason, maybe you should show the person this. Note: Don't code your sites cos of this but the reasons might be something you want to incorporate into your own site. As a matter of fact, this site's design inspired a news site that I also own:

http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/1407-why-the-drudge-report-is-one-of-the-best-designed-sites-on-the-web

A couple weeks ago on Twitter I said: “I still maintain the Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web. Has been for years.” A few people agreed, but most didn’t. Some thought it was a joke. I wasn’t kidding.

To clarify, my definition of design goes beyond aesthetic qualities and into areas of maintenance, cost, profitability, speed, and purpose. However, I still think that the Drudge Report is an aesthetic masterpiece even though I also consider it ugly. Can good design also be ugly? I think Drudge proves it can.

Here are a few reasons, in no particular order, why I think The Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web.

Staying power

People talk about timeless design all the time. But most things people point to that are timeless end up being time stamped. The Drudge Report, on the other hand, has proven timeless. It’s generic list of links, black and white monospaced font, and ALL CAPS headlines have survived every trend, every fad, every movement, every era, every design do or don’t. It doesn’t look old and it doesn’t look new — it looks Drudge. It hasn’t changed since at least 1997, and I believe the design goes back even further. How many sites can survive — and thrive — unchanged for a decade? That’s special.

It’s straightforward

There are no tricks, no sections, no deep linking, no special technology required. It’s all right there on one page. “But it’s a mess!” you could say. I’d say “it’s straightforward mess.” I wouldn’t underestimate the merit in that.
It’s unique

When you’re on the Drudge Report you’re on the Drudge Report. There’s no question where you are. The design has become iconic. How many other news sites can claim that? If you pull the logo off some of the other major news sites/networks (CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, ABC News, CBS News, etc.) you may have a hard time distinguishing them from one another. They all sorta blend into the same standard news-site look and feel. There are a few standouts, but even the NYT and the WSJ aren’t that unique. Drudge’s design stands alone.

This is important

Many news sites have lost their balls. They’re afraid to really call out one big story. They may have a leading headline, but it’s not all that obvious or different from the others. It may be a font size or two bigger, but it’s not confident. They hedge. Drudge, on the other hand, says “this is the story of the moment” with a huge headline. This is what’s important in the news right now and nothing else even comes close. Drudge isn’t afraid to be an opinionated editor and his site design perfectly emphasizes that. It’s bold, it’s risky, and it’s pure Drudge design.
It’s good cluttered

The Drudge Report usually leads with a “font size=+7” ALL CAPS headline in Arial. Sometimes it’s italicized. Sometimes, for something big big, he’ll cap it off with the infamous siren.

After that you have three columns. Some headlines are sentence case, some are ALL CAPS. Some have photos, some are just a plain text headline. Sometimes more controversial or sensational headlines are colored red. There’s usually a big ad at the top and a few other ads sprinkled among the columns.

Stories aren’t grouped or organized except probably more interesting ones up top. And that’s it. Your eye darts all over the place looking around for something that looks interesting. The design encourages wandering and random discovery.

The site feels like a chaotic newsroom with the cutting room floor exposed. I think that’s part of the excitement — and good design.

Breaking news is breaking news

Have you seen “breaking news” on MSNBC or CNN lately? Almost anything can pass for breaking news now. “So and so speaks to the press about this or that” is now breaking news. Breaking news used to mean something seriously big and important or spectacular just happened. But the major news sites have watered it way down. When I hit MSNBC or CNN, and they have a “breaking news” bar (red/yellow usually), it’s easy to ignore because they’ve cried wolf one too many times. But when you see a big honking red ALL CAPS headline with the flashing siren on Drudge, you know it’s newsworthy.

One guy can run it

The site is run by Matt Drudge full time with help from an occasional part-time contributor. If the site was 5 pages or 10 pages or 30 pages, he’d likely need additional people and technology to manage it all.
No news is the news

The Drudge Report is a headline site. There’s no “content” on the site. Yet, that’s news. The headlines themselves can be news. Drudge breaks stories without writing stories. In fact, The Drudge Report may be one of the only sites on the web that can break a story with just a headline or a photo. That’s baked right into the design.
It sends people away to keep them coming back

There’s actually no content on the Drudge Report. Well, sometimes he will post an email or a memo on his site, but it’s 99% links out to other news sources. His site is designed to send you away to bring you back. The more often you hit his site to go somewhere else the more often you’ll return to go somewhere else again. You visit the Drudge Report more because you leave the Drudge Report more. This is one of the secrets to building traffic: The more you send people away the more they’ll come back.
It’s fast

When you visit The Drudge Report, you get the Drudge report. There are no interstitial ads. There’s no load time. There’s no buffering. There’s nothing but instant content. The Drudge Report is Google-fast and Craigslist fast — quite a feat for a site that does 3,000,000 uniques a month run by one guy. BTW: Those 3,000,000 uniques a month translate into hundreds of millions of visits a month (source: CNN).

It’s cheap to maintain

The design of the Drudge Report doesn’t require a fancy CMS or, in fact, any CMS at all. It’s edited by hand. His overhead is probably a couple grand a month max. A few thousand bucks a year in overhead that generates a few million a year in revenue. That’s good design.

It’s one page

The Drudge Report is one page. Every visit and every visitor is focused on that one page with a headline and three columns. He knows exactly what people are going to see, he knows exactly how people are going to see it. There’s no mystery page here that hasn’t been redesigned or mystery page there that’s throwing an error. It’s one page to look at at one page to work on. It is what it is. It doesn’t try too hard to be something it’s not.
It makes him a great living

Based on published ad rates and traffic numbers, it’s estimated that Matt Drudge makes “over a million a year.” Not bad for a single black and white page on the internet.

So these are some of the reasons why I think The Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web. Swing away.

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Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by pie1ect(m): 10:47am On Nov 21, 2008
Hmm. . . Yawa, the points in this article are noted but it has to be said that we have moved into the 21st century. It's tricky replying to this thread but I'll give it a shot.
Matt set up the Drudge Report in 1994 and that was a time when this sort of site would have been seen as a major achievement. At the height of it's existence, The Drudge report was the go-to place when you needed breaking news. A few years later, The Drudge Retort came into play. And eleven years after, The Huffington Post came into existence.

The point is, both these sites have out-grown The Drudge Report. And about highlighting interesting news items, I think nobody currently does it better right now than The Huffington Post. The Post has more than double the amount of traffic The Report attracts and more than triple the revenue.

The reason why The Report seems to be losing in numbers is simple - Matt has decided against change (kind of' like the party he supports, but I digress). There is no interaction on the site (at least, non that is obvious) and I wonder what the average time spent on the site is, seeing as 98% of the links seem to show the way out.

It may still be early days, but I don't think Matt Drudge will be able to sustain his current  revenue levels for much longer, especially if another right-wing news site opens which offers more features, like the right-wing version of The Huffington Post. Of course, if that's the model he wants to adopt long-term, it's fine.

But the notion that this is a good model for website owners to consider, I think is flawed. Users want to interact and if they see the opportunity elsewhere they'll leave your link farm(which is what The Drudge Report is, really) and go where they can rant and rave and feel like they are a part of something.

I'm sure I'm not telling you something you don't already know, but this is just my point of view.
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by yawatide(f): 1:39pm On Nov 21, 2008
pie1ct,

Points noted and it makes perfect sense. I was just reporting and giving the forum the chance to decide wink

I do visit all the sites, excluding the retort, mentioned here.

Thanks for your post once again.
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by xclusiv(m): 2:16pm On Nov 21, 2008
While I don't completely disagree with the report, there are a few pointers that is worthy of note

1. All Website have different design objectives - If the purpose of my design is to show of my skill as a designer, then i cannot compare my design with that of a site that just wants to pass information. For example if you check www.2advanced.com, the site is highly animated and heavy, but the developers wanted and needed to show that they are capable of doing some good multimedia design, and the purpose is achieved. therefore it will be unfair to compare their site with others in another industry.

2. The Drudge guy, counld have achieved a bit more if the layout has been better, there is something about layout and white spaces that can bring information clearer to you

3. I didn't enjoy the scrolling on the page , i use a 1280 x 800 resolution on my system and i must say i hated having to scroll endlessly to get the information that i needed

4 , and finally why didn't he categorise the news, i was trying to find stuff on technology and i couldn't find with all the barge of information that was making my eyes see double

i can compare the site with www.havenworks.com, only that it has less colour, images and blinking text
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by yawatide(f): 3:45pm On Nov 21, 2008
xclusiv,

Yeah like you, what I have taken out of that article isn't about the drudge site per se but about what you should aim for when developing a website.

On the other hand, considering drudge once used to live out of his car and is now living in the poshest area of Miami because of that site does make me question what I am doing as a developer sometimes tongue
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by pie1ect(m): 4:05pm On Nov 21, 2008
Yeah xclusive, that haven site is funny. I doubt even old Nigerian websites were ever as bad as that.
Having said that, I will note here that Drudge has more than established his name online, he created a brand and no one can fault him on that.

I understand that the objectives of creating the site matters, but I think we have to agree that the layout of his website could be better. It's his choice to model his website as he sees fit, but anytime I visit the site, I get turned off - nothing seems to be in the right place.

As Yawa pointed out though, he's already made a massive fortune from that site alone. Apparently he makes an estimated $800 [b]grand [/b]a year, and I'm not counting election year earnings. So he's done good.
But as a model for other developers/bloggers, The Drudge report is far from being a model.
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by yawatide(f): 5:35pm On Nov 21, 2008
here here, pie1ct
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by OmniPotens(m): 8:26pm On Nov 21, 2008
The very first time I was sent the link to this drudge report, I was really upset about the designs and everything but one thing that kept me on it at least for some weeks before I lost the link was the news there. Getting to know about the latest news was not a big deal if you knew about the drudge report even if the main details were not yet linked to a source.

One thing I can say here is, "ideology" is the key. The owner has no time looking up designs to make it as professional as possible. All he wanted was to display news the best way he could to help people get access to them. That was all. He achieved what he wanted. What about other web developers? Most times, because you will like to integrate a particular kind of design, you simply end up not achieving the better side of your development which is bringing the original ideology of your design. Why? Simply because, it could not fit into the design you were trying to force it into.

Lesson
Do your own things your own way.

Invent and Be a master planner.

Never believe you are stoppable by anything even the rules because, someone made even the rules wink !
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by Africason(m): 8:47pm On Nov 22, 2008
pie1ct & xclusiv, drudgereport is ugly, simple yet effective. The site is simple because it doesn't require much skill(s) in designing it but i can say it's effective because it keeps visitors coming for more. It now gets 20m+ odd views every day so it means he's doing something right. Viewers are sent out to other site but they keep coming back for more info because we tend to want to  find out the next breaking news headlines in town.

I've built a site WHATSONNEWS.COM based on that model and it took me just about 2 hrs in doing it and within just three months, i've got google PR4 due mainly to the freshness of the site's content (every headline link is unique) and updates automatically quite frequently.

NB: It's estimated Matt Drudge earns about $1mill a yr from that.
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by yawatide(f): 12:09am On Nov 23, 2008
africanson,

ur url to whatson isn't working without tweaking. Click on it yourself and make corrections.

Wow! If you hadn't told me, I could have sworn the drudge site was hacked cool
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by Africason(m): 1:22am On Nov 23, 2008
cheers 4 de correction 'yawa-ti-de'. lol, i didn't hack it. hehehe
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by xclusiv(m): 9:30am On Nov 24, 2008
the fact that he has 20m+ unique visitors, doesn't mean the site is good, i believe the world is changing and if he decides not to change , he will be grounded by change if not destroyed by it -so just because he is making money from it today doesn't mean he will continue to sustain the cashflow, if site like google have not change the way search is done and have not continued to make changes, am sure they will not be the biggest media company in the world.

If Google has remained the way they were 7 yrs ago, they might still be making money, but am sure not as much as they are making right now. If the guy thinks there is no need to innovate, all i can say then is the that the clock is ticking on is site (9 | 8 | 7 |, ) lipsrsealed
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by Africason(m): 4:03pm On Nov 24, 2008
One thing we must also remember is about 5 years ago, the guy was getting less than 5m+ views a day but the site has grown hence the 20m+ views currently. He wasn't earning that much as well but he's now making it big!  He has  chosen to make his site unique. No site in the News service biz has the same template as Drudge's barring Whatsonnews.com of course. lol.

As the original article said, if u strip all the other news sites, they all almost have the same templates but Drudge's site is different(unique). I will admit its ugly in some sense but hey, let him enjoy his ltd success. He just wanna stand out from the pack  lol

Ping,

NB: 'Havenswork' is . . .!
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by yawatide(f): 4:29pm On Nov 24, 2008
wat brought him to the fore was that drudge broke the clinton/lewinsky affair. from that time, there was no looking back.

Omo had a vision and now, even the likes of CNN quote from his site. It has gotten to the point where, I don't even have to watch news anymore as they all get from him. I visit his site 3 times a day and get all the *useful* news I need and that's it cool
Re: Why The Drudge Report Is One Of The Best Designed Sites On The Web by Africason(m): 10:26pm On Nov 24, 2008
then yawa-ti-de, i bet u gonna get addicted to mine(whatsonnews  and Africa News Online. Net- solely for Africa)as well.  grin wink

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