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Dagbladet builds engaging, responsive design into products

By Alexandra Beverfjord

Dagbladet

Oslo, Norway

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Dagbladet was Norway’s first national media company to start an online newspaper in 1995. In the beginning, the online newspaper was quite like the print edition in terms of design. The page was text-heavy. There were few photos and no Web TV.

But gradually, Dagbladet began to develop a more digital ecosystem, and the newspaper was the first in Norway with a lot of design solutions that were later copied by others.

The publication uses short titles, bright colours, asymmetrical layout, and other design features to grab attention.
The publication uses short titles, bright colours, asymmetrical layout, and other design features to grab attention.

Why noise can be good

Many designers prefer to have as much space as possible around titles and pictures, and as much symmetry as possible. The result can sometimes be unbearably boring for readers. Everything becomes the same, and everything feels gray.

Colours, contrasts, and asymmetry, on the other hand, create an exciting design for readers. And that is where Dagbladet wants to be.

Dagbladet is constantly experimenting with new features on the mobile front page. The solutions are analysed and A/B tested. We know what works and what doesn’t work.

What can we learn from athletes?

In Scandinavia, we are incredibly interested in skiing. In the late 1980s, a Swedish ski jumper named Jan Boklöv revolutionised the sport. Boklöv began to jump with his skis shaped like a V. The method was, by the style standard of the time, not pretty to look at. But Boklöv’s style was the most effective. He became the first Swede to win the World Cup. Later, all ski jumpers jumped the same way as he did with the V style because it was the most effective way to jump to date.

Another example is Dick Fosbury, who revolutionised the high jump event with his “back first” technique.

At Dagbladet, we are not concerned that things look nice or fancy. We are committed to creating a design that works for our readers. We are always looking to find small “Boklöv” and “Fosbury” tactics that make our journalistic content reach as far as possible.

A living front page

In recent years, Dagbladet has invested heavily in Web TV. Dagbladet’s most important delivery to users is breaking news, and it is not possible to be the best at this without also being the best at Web TV.

Our TV investment was important when we developed our front page. Most newspapers are “flat” and “dead” in their Web design, which means their front page is as static on mobile as it is in print. At Dagbladet, we use GIF a lot for Web TV right on the front page when we promote Web TV content. We also use running crawlers, which is a feature taken from the TV world.

Short titles

As a mass-distributed national newspaper, we reach everyone in Norway. Dagbladet started with popular journalism in the 1930s and switched to the tabloid format in 1983. Short, effective titles have been part of our expression for many decades.

In the print edition, the goal was for the titles to be read from a long distance. On mobile, the goal is for the titles to be easy to read on a small screen.

Design as a breaking news tool

Dagbladet’s most important feature is breaking news. The special thing about digital newspapers is that we can deliver speed, depth, and breadth at the same time, and we can update asynchronously.

When we work with layout, we want to tell our readers and viewers what is happening in real time — something we emphasise with the use of breaking crawlers. We also want to promote our exclusive material, and therefore mark qualifying articles with “Dagbladet reveals,” “Dagbladet exclusive,” “First in Dagbladet,” and so on. The layout helps people understand that our journalism focuses on what is happening right now.

The design changes we have taken in recent years have undoubtedly contributed to Dagbladet increasing its position digitally.

About Alexandra Beverfjord

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