Q&A with the New York Times Online Design Director
Khoi Vinh, the designer of the newish New York Times site and creator of the elegant blog Subtraction, is participating in a question and answer session all week (yeah, I'm late with this).
Right up front he makes an important point about designing and writing for a specific medium (one that I wish more people truly understood):
Whatever success we've had with making NYTimes.com a useful and engaging source for online news, in my opinion, comes from realizing that we're not just trying to re-create what's available to readers in the printed newspaper.
Rather, we're trying to create something that's true to this medium, that borrows the best of what works in print and that takes advantage of the unique aspects of digital media.
This means we pay a lot of attention to how people use our content online. That is, not just how they read it, but how they make use of it: how they might scan the page haphazardly rather than diligently reading from top to bottom; what parts of the page they look to first and last; what they expect to change from visit to visit; which visual cues are meaningful for them and which design flourishes they find useless.