Toledo Talk

Blade's Web Page: U-G-L-Y

I know the paper is struggling to make a buck, but this is among the most aesthetically unappealing Blade front pages I have ever seen. They have been selling the background to advertisers, and usually they pick colors that at least match the rest of the site scheme, but today was a real eyeball-searing visit:

blade web page

created by historymike on Apr 14, 2010 at 08:09:11 am     Media     Comments: 51

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This is less annoying to me than the corner than curls inward and blocks whatever you're trying to read....

posted by MaggieThurber on Apr 14, 2010 at 08:41:03 am     #  

Also notice where it says "The Blade Electronic Edition"

The word electronic. It sounds so......1980's.

Online Edition OR Internet Edition would sound so much better.

posted by WalterAnthony on Apr 14, 2010 at 08:42:12 am     #  


Oh yeah! That is the worst type of ad, especially when they mask the "Close" button. Or those quai-popups that jump out if your cursor passes over the place where it is embedded.

posted by historymike on Apr 14, 2010 at 08:48:43 am     #  

I'm just glad they jam the "green edition" in my UT inbox every morning around 5.

So after everyday for about a year, I have a couple hundred unread emails and a lot of deleting to do.

posted by thomas on Apr 14, 2010 at 09:17:00 am     #  

And while we are at it I have given up on WTOL's site. Way to much clutter - a gazillion ads - just too much crap on it. I will get local news somewhere else.

posted by Molsonator on Apr 14, 2010 at 09:17:58 am     #  

that is very ugly. Even my adblock mozilla add-on could not stop that eyesore from loading.

posted by estioney on Apr 14, 2010 at 09:41:05 am     #  

(laughs at estioney's acerbic take)

Thomas: That was harder than heck to unsubscribe from, but at some point I managed to get rid of it. Actually, I think I created a rule to send it to junk mail.

Molsonator: agreed, and because of the clutter the WTOL page is a slow loading beast.

posted by historymike on Apr 14, 2010 at 09:46:43 am     #  

Now I'm craving an Egg McMuffin.

For less clutter, access the mobile version of the Blade at

TV news sites are brutal. I wish they offered a simple Web page somewhere on their site that I could bookmark, which only contained the titles to local news stories along with a date stamp at the end of the title. Something like the basic-looking Yahoo! Sports News page.

One way to access local news is to follow them on Twitter. Create your own river of news feed.

Twitter accounts:

And some others.

posted by jr on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:15:36 am     #  

Another Twitter account: BG News

It would be nice if these other local news orgs would feed their story links to Twitter. Maybe they are. And for some of these, it would be handy if their news stories actually remained on their Web sites.

posted by jr on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:40:10 am     #  

The Blade's website is a travesty. And a joke.

It's not like you can't make a newspaper website work well and look good:

posted by toledolen_ on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:44:13 am     #  

The blade's website is offensively ugly, and impossible to use. Why does every search open in a new window? I stopped going once they did the disgusting tiled banner ads. What year are we living in? The website looks like something straight out of 1999

posted by upso on Apr 14, 2010 at 11:10:31 am     #  

Looks like $10k in ad money* buys some serious influence. *(I have no idea what McD's paid for the 2-day spot - just a guess).

Obviously, it's money well-spent as the ad - partnered with the more-informative banners - is hard to miss. But seriously, they could have taken a couple extra minutes to coordinate the color scheme a little better. McD's maroon is just not gelling with the Blade's blue palette.

Also, what is up with the Blade? When did a website's wallpaper become a rentable commodity? I know their print division has been losing money for some time, but this might be taking the whole 'monetize the web' thing a bit too far.

posted by mixman on Apr 14, 2010 at 12:26:50 pm     #  

Maybe the City of Toledo website should consider the idea of selling its background to adverstisers to help with the budget. But then again...who would advertise there? How many people really visit it? I think it all looks very Sports Arena, or those backdrops behinfd the President when he speaks.

posted by KraZyKat on Apr 14, 2010 at 12:27:56 pm     #  

Design wise, it's high time they make the leap into something circa 2002. Just for the sake of consistency and all.

posted by SavageFred on Apr 14, 2010 at 12:33:29 pm     #  

I'm glad I am not the only person who has though this. The BBC World NEws website is a great example of what I think news websites should aim to be. - this is imo the perfect news website.

posted by OhioKimono on Apr 14, 2010 at 01:13:31 pm     #  

Looks like somebody either: a) reads Toledo Talk; or b) had their eyeballs scorched, as the website just changed:

blade web page 2

posted by historymike on Apr 14, 2010 at 01:20:32 pm     #  

HILARIOUS! while it's a noble effort, I think they miss the point that a tiled advertising background is tacky and distracting no matter the color. Also weird they are using such a low rez / fuzzy Mc Donald's logo. If I was Mickey D's i'd be unhappy.

posted by upso on Apr 14, 2010 at 01:25:37 pm     #  

also, while not the best looking website either, why does the Toledo Blade's sister paper have such a better site? couldn't they just have one nice design for both papers?

posted by upso on Apr 14, 2010 at 01:28:08 pm     #  

And do they take into consideration that some people (myself included sometimes) will NOT shop somewhere out of spite if you annoy them? LOL!

posted by Ryan on Apr 14, 2010 at 01:28:14 pm     #  

I look at the Blade & every day. The sites have never bothered me.

But I don't tend to care much about aesthetics, as long as I can find what I want. I'm pretty good at tuning out stuff I don't care about, like advertisements, etc.

(Maybe that's why I was so amused at the massive uproar when Facebook changed its design - I barely noticed. Lol)

posted by mom2 on Apr 14, 2010 at 02:18:44 pm     #  

Interesting ancient Poynter Online story from January 2003 titled The Best Designed News Sites.



The Beauty Queen

More than just a pretty face


What people are really reading


posted by jr on Apr 14, 2010 at 02:42:04 pm     #  

The media critic in me says "I guess we won't be seeing any hard hitting exposes on McDonalds for the next two days"...

posted by oldhometown on Apr 14, 2010 at 03:45:18 pm     #  

jr, you rock, are you in the newspaper biz or just a netizen of the highest order? :)

posted by nana on Apr 14, 2010 at 04:28:09 pm     #  

"are you in the newspaper biz or just a netizen of the highest order"

No and probably not.

I sometimes monitor news about the media.

Some sites I read:

"why does the Toledo Blade's sister paper have such a better site?"

And last fall, the Post-Gazette implemented something new called PG+.

Sep 1, 2009 Toledo Talk posting: Block Communications adds new members-only site to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

posted by jr on Apr 14, 2010 at 08:02:46 pm     #  

I am laughing so hard at the color change.
Considering the colors and all the stuff that goes behind trademark law...Im betting the color change on the McD logo is actually a big no no.

posted by OhioKimono on Apr 14, 2010 at 09:12:23 pm     #  

I noticed that historymike's screen shots show a lot more of the background than I see on my computer.

The only time I really can see the wallpaper is when the page is first opened, right before the content comes up. I don't see it as a border surrounding the stories, like in historymike's images.

Am I the only one who doesn't get the border?

posted by mom2 on Apr 14, 2010 at 09:55:10 pm     #  

your monitor resolution must be set to a lower rez than ours. I see a ton of background when I visit

posted by upso on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:00:31 pm     #  

Maybe. I see it the same way at home & at work, but I suppose that both monitors could be set that way.

Perhaps that's why their website doesn't seem to annoy me as much as it does the rest of you? I'm not subjected to as much of the background. Lol

posted by mom2 on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:05:04 pm     #  

If do you a view source on the Blade site, you'll see a width of 940 pixels. So a wide, high-res monitor will show a lot of the McDonald's background.

My old, low-res laptop shows only a small amount of the McDonald's background, but it's more than enough.

If the Blade adds any more cruft to the top of their home page, their content will begin below the fold on my laptop. The title for that dog story begins 50% down the screen. That's a lot of wasted real estate above. Well, I guess it's not wasted if it contains large ads.

I will congratulate the Blade for producing those salary databases of taxpayer-funded employees. The fact that it's pissing some people off means it's a good thing. It's public information. The Blade also produces that Google maps crime blotter mashup. They need to create a lot more of those database-journalism mashup tools like what's at EveryBlock. The Blade has access to a lot of info.

posted by jr on Apr 14, 2010 at 11:11:13 pm     #  

I agree. There are things they do very well, and i'd like to see more of it. As far as the fold is concerned, most of my web designer friends (and I have a lot of them) would never be allowed to design a website that had most of the key content starting 1/2 way to the fold, or below the fold. It's a huge web design / user experience no-no.

posted by upso on Apr 14, 2010 at 11:29:21 pm     #  

Small excerpts from the Mar 22, 2010 column Scrolling and Attention

Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold.

[U]sers will scroll. However, you shouldn't ignore the fold and create endless pages for two reasons:

  • Long pages continue to be problematic because of users' limited attention span. People prefer sites that get to the point and let them get things done quickly. Besides the basic reluctance to read more words, scrolling is extra work.
  • The real estate above the fold is more valuable than stuff below the fold for attracting and keeping users' attention.
[I]f you have a long article, it's better to present it as one scrolling canvas than to split it across multiple pageviews. Scrolling beats paging because it's easier for users to simply keep going down the page than it is to decide whether or not to click through for the next page of a fragmented article.

The Apr 6, 2010 column Horizontal Attention Leans Left

Web users spend 69% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 30% viewing the right half.

posted by jr on Apr 15, 2010 at 01:44:38 am     #  

being from Pittsburgh, I read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette online. Since the Blade and the Post are sister papers, I thought that they'd have similar websites. They don't. The Blade really stinks.
And I agree with Mrs Thurber. That curling edge rolling over what I"m trying to read is really annoying.

posted by hockeyfan on Apr 15, 2010 at 02:07:12 am     #  

Then there are those roll-down quasi-popups that obliterate the screen for 5-10 seconds, like the promo for Wicked today, and the Blade popups that get blocked. This morning the commercial blight was even worse than yesterday, and my entire screen was filled with advertisements and notices that my browser blocked popups:

blade 3

posted by historymike on Apr 15, 2010 at 09:29:29 am     #  

Wow, that's reallyyyyy bad. This is why I do not visit the Blade website, or take it seriously. Its unorganized, ugly, and the advertising is just offensive to good taste.

posted by OhioKimono on Apr 15, 2010 at 09:55:16 am     #  

Yech! How annoying with all that advertising in the background. Then that dinosaur comes across the screen. They must be desperate for ads.

posted by bikerdude on Apr 16, 2010 at 09:02:47 pm     #  

Even worse with the Huntington background. Way too much white space. I can't even read it.

posted by taxiang on Apr 17, 2010 at 03:42:21 pm     #  

Thank you for the critiques! It's very valuable. Thanks to historymike for starting the thread.


(I work for The Blade)

posted by paulhem on Apr 17, 2010 at 05:46:54 pm     #  

I tweeted the Blade about this--here's their response:
"Thanks for the comment. Others also w/ that opinion. > 400 Blade families relying on paychecks advertiser funded. We'll try."

posted by taxiang on Apr 17, 2010 at 06:21:14 pm     #  

That was me, responding as @toledonews, taxiang.

We've been discussing this internally. I will copy the page and make sure your suggestions are considered.

Thanks, again.


posted by paulhem on Apr 17, 2010 at 09:16:44 pm     #  

I stopped following the blade on Facebook & Twitter, and almost immediately got this message on twitter from paulhem:

"@upso Tell me it ain't so! You stopped following @toledonews :( What can I do?"

posted by upso on Apr 17, 2010 at 11:37:51 pm     #  

looks like a friend of mine also stopped following the blade on twitter and got a similar message from paulhem

"@kelegraph Noticed that you stopped following @ToledoNews May I help to make you reconsider. Is there anything that we could do to keep you?"

posted by upso on Apr 17, 2010 at 11:51:47 pm     #  

Paul - to answer "400 Blade families relying on paychecks advertiser funded. We'll try." is not good PR. It implies the advertisiers run the show - cash is more important. It's like the saying "if it saves one life...". Well how about thinking harder to save many lives. If you guys are smart over there you can figure out a way to make money and make it appealing to those who visit. After all visits/hits are how you sell to advertisiers.

posted by Molsonator on Apr 18, 2010 at 09:51:55 am     #  

I can guarantee you the LA Times pulls in more advertising dollars from their site than the Blade's. Good design is good business... but what can you expect from podunk.

And, upso, wow, thats pathetic and desperate.

posted by toledolen_ on Apr 18, 2010 at 12:20:27 pm     #  

toledolen_ i wasn't posting it because it was pathetic. I just find it really fascinating how the different media outlets are attempting to reach out to their audiences.

posted by upso on Apr 18, 2010 at 04:54:58 pm     #  

toledolen_ I make no apologies regarding asking upso or anyone else to follow us, again, once they leave. I'm sure he took it in the spirit it was offered. Also, I would still request the follow so that we can interact easier with such an intelligent leader in the design world.

Frankly, I will fight for every follower to attempt to learn what I can do to make things better.

If you find it pathetic and desperate, then I must be doing something right.

posted by paulhem on Apr 18, 2010 at 06:08:20 pm     #  


Thank you for the comment.

I disagree. We have to pay the bills. I have to work with our business side, and they are looking for ways to fund the journalism efforts.

It has never been a secret that newspapers rely on advertisers for most of their revenue.

Are you suggesting that I misrepresent when I answer questions?

Does The Blade have a reputation of pandering to business interests? Obviously, not!

Once again, we have over 400 Toledo area families who rely on our advertisers for their livelihood. That's just the truth. And, most likely, it has been that way for most of the 175 years that this publication has existed

That being said, I will take all of your comments in to my superiors so that they can benefit from them as I have.

posted by paulhem on Apr 18, 2010 at 06:26:21 pm     #  


The Ohio contingent of Society of Professional Journalists gave the 2009 First Place award, with the Columbus Dispatch in Second Place:

Best Web Site

FIRST:, Staff, The
Toledo Blade.

SECOND:, Staff, The
Columbus Dispatch.

Download LINK

Do we have a lot more work to do? Of course! And thanks to all of your comments, we have more to consider.

Thanks again!

posted by paulhem on Apr 18, 2010 at 06:56:46 pm     #  

So Paul, is the Blade going to report the pitbull attack on Friday in South Toledo or the one that happened tonight on the East Side which put 3 people (including a cop) in the hospital?

posted by toledolen_ on Apr 18, 2010 at 10:35:53 pm     #  

THIS is very interesting.

Is Paul Helm a pitbull owner, himself????

posted by toledolen_ on Apr 18, 2010 at 10:43:27 pm     #  


posted by upso on Apr 18, 2010 at 11:09:35 pm     #  

Under Ohio law, owners of "pit bulls" must maintain at least $100,000 of liability insurance coverage for their dogs.

Do you, Paul Helm, have coverage of your dog(s)?

posted by toledolen_ on Apr 18, 2010 at 11:48:56 pm     #