If you’re within digital earshot of me, you’ve probably heard about the corporate owners of New Orleans’ daily paper, the Times-Picayune, scaling back to only publishing 3 days a week and focusing on their online presence, nola.com. Without being unnecessarily rude, this is one of my least favorite sites that I spend any measurable amount of time on. Whereas in many cases I can avoid the worst-designed examples in any category, if I want news about New Orleans, I have a limited number of options. That’s why I was so glad to find the User CSS Safari Extension (similar plugins are available for other browsers). It lets you add your own stylesheets that can be applied to specific sites, meaning that I can turn the homepage of nola.com into something I don’t mind looking at. I started by removing everything on the page about which I did not give a damn:
I don’t run Ad Block or similar plugins, because I generally don’t mind web advertising and I understand people have got to pay the bills somehow. But nola.com has lost its license to advertise to me.
I think my favorite part of the redesign is eliminating the cheesy and pointless nola.com branding and focusing on the traditional, infinitely more elegant Times-Picayune nameplate (which, to Advance’s credit, they at least re-introduced in the new design). It may not be around much longer in print, but it will live on in my browser.
It’s still a work in progress, but already I’m able to enjoy reading the news in a way I haven’t in a long time. It’s not a solution for the technically non-inclined, but it’s definitely the solution for me.
UPDATE:A few folks mentioned they’d be interested in doing the same, since Advance’s other web properties like al.com and mlive.com have recently been beaten with the same ugly stick (and no doubt others like oregonlive.com and nj.com have it coming soon). This is extremely messy, even by my standards, but it’s a good place to start. If you improve upon this, I’d love to see what you make with it. Grab the CSS on Pastebin.