Washington City Paper Website Critique

“Intuitive design is how we give the user new superpowers.” ― Jared Spool, Web Site Usability: A Designer's Guide


The prominent header is extremely eye-grabbing and appealing. There is no question which article Washington City Paper wants to highlight because it has a large image. The black background for the header makes the image stand out. The reader has a few captivating options within the header to choose from. It would have been nice to see more diversity in the header content options, rather than mainly the "Food" section.

washington city paper header


The menu options are prominent and large. The menu highlights the main areas of content included on the website. I also found it interesting that therewere two featured areas that were included in the menu. The menu has been specifically crafted to Washington City Paper's audience, however I was surprised that there was no "About" page in the menu. Perhaps, because the type of content is clearly communicated through the menu and featured elements.

WCP menu

Main Content

As a site that provides an overview of events, food, art and news in the District, the articles are brief, many being less than 300 words. Images are an important component of the content, particularly the cultural sections such as food and art. They are typically used to help tell the story.
The home page is laid out in a hierarchical fashion featuring a large image for the most important article and large fonts for secondary content. Section headers play a role in organizing the content so readers know exactly where to look.

WCP content


On the news site, the sidebar is used strategically to highlight secondary, relevant content. For example, the Arts sidebar includes articles marked "Film" and "Music". The City Paper used the sidebar as an opportunity to feature the subsections within the paper.

WCP sidebar


Because the main content of this site was so focused, I was a bit surprised by the content in the footer. There were extra links that caught me by surprise such as long "ETC" section and "User Tools" inviting people to register, subscribe or login. I would have loved to see some of this content sprinkled in strategically throughout the site. It was also nice to see some of the subsections within the major areas of the site. The titles were catchy and intriguing.

WCP footer