MSNBC: Pushing the envelope of design

Most news websites are pretty much designed in the same style: lots of links arranged into columns with smaller visual elements sprinkled throughout the page. MSNBC, however, frequently breaks out of that mold with webpages and web tools that defy traditional design.

A few months ago, MSNBC launched BLTWY (pronounced Beltway), a niche news site centered on the celebrity side of politics. What made the site truly stand out was its unconventional design — instead of a sea of text, the page is a grid made up mostly of photos that serve as links to individual stories.


MSNBC’s Spectra offers a very different way of visualizing recent headlines. Visitors to the tool can choose the types of news they want to read and the selections are displayed in color-coded blocks that orbit in a conical motion. You can find more of MSNBC’s “NewsTools,” including the interactive game NewsBlaster, on this page.


MSNBC’s colorful design aesthetic is also applied to webpages for its programs, including Dateline NBC and the Rachel Maddow Show.


Does the splashy approach web design actually work or is it all sizzle? Beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder, but what is indisputable that MSNBC has broke away from the pack to create web design that is both innovative and interesting.