The web is a relatively new place in the broader scope of what we would consider modern history. However, there are a few sites that have been able to establish a legacy even in the rapid evolvement of the interwebs. At the top of the list is the Drudge Report.
Founded by Matt Drudge in 1996, the site had its humble beginnings as a weekly subscriber-based eMail dispatch, until it broke its big first story, solidifying itself in the world of news media. From the always insightful Wikipedia:
The Drudge Report is an American news aggregation website. Run by Matt Drudge with the help of Charles Hurt, the site consists mainly of links to stories from the United States and international mainstream media about politics, entertainment, and current events; it also has links to many columnists. Viewpoints expressed on the website are often considered conservative. Occasionally, Drudge authors new stories himself, based on tips.
The Drudge Report originated in 1996 as a weekly subscriber-based eMail dispatch. It was the first news source to break the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the public, after Newsweek decided not to publish the story.
Ok, that’s all well and good, but why on earth would you consider a site with an obviously outdated look and feel as one of the “best designed” news sites of all time?
I’ve received a number of puzzling looks throughout the years as I’ve told individuals that Drudge Report is one of the best-designed sites in existence—and surely of the news industry.
The fundamental divide comes down to a misunderstanding of what design is. In recent years, many have come to equate good design with glossy buttons, pretty sliders, and a nice color palette. While these things can encompass good design, they aren’t design itself.
Design is rather the overall core functionality and usability. We say a car is well-designed not based upon the paint color, but upon its performance and features. I’m not one to often quote Steve Jobs, but he was right when he said “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
So long as we’re standing on the firm footing of what design is and what it is not, Drudge remains one of the best-designed websites of all time. But for those still skeptical, here’s a few of the core reasons why the site’s timeless design is one of the best around.
Everything on the web seems to change ten times faster than in other mediums—web design trends especially.
It seems once a month we’re being sold the new “style” that you must implement if you’re to keep up with the times. Whether it’s a slider, big “hero” front page images, video backgrounds, giant buttons, or crazy web typography; the new trends are endless.
Drudge on the other hand, remains unchanged, built with archaic HTML tables and inline styles the likes of which any modern web developer would cringe. What’s more? It’s not even responsive.
Yet, even some of today’s “well designed” news sites pale in comparison when it comes to usability, engagement, and content—three things that are signs of a good design. Not to mention the site’s traffic which averages around a jaw-dropping 16 million monthly unique visitors.
As it turns out, I’m not alone in my sentiments:
The Drudge Report usually leads with a “font size=+7” ALL CAPS headline in Arial. Sometimes it’s italicized. Sometimes, for something big big, he’ll cap it off with the infamous siren.
After that you have three columns. Some headlines are sentence case, some are ALL CAPS. Some have photos, some are just a plain text headline. Sometimes more controversial or sensational headlines are colored red. There’s usually a big ad at the top and a few other ads sprinkled among the columns.
Stories aren’t grouped or organized except probably more interesting ones up top. And that’s it. Your eye darts all over the place looking around for something that looks interesting. The design encourages wandering and random discovery.
The site feels like a chaotic newsroom with the cutting room floor exposed. I think that’s part of the excitement — and good design.
Say just one word: “Drudge” and just about everyone knows what you’re talking about. Even before the phrase “Google it” became mainstream, the question “did you see that story on Drudge?” wasn’t uncommon around the watercooler.
Beyond the name, however, is the reputation the site has developed since its existence to be among the first to break stories. It’s not uncommon for news reporters themselves to check Drudge frequently to see which stories are breaking so they can keep up with the curve. Some reporters have even referred to the site as the “tip sheet” they visit often throughout the day to stay on top of world events.
The actual layout and design of the site itself is one of its chief branding elements. It’s utterly and helplessly unique. There’s no other like it. The design breaks every design and development convention in existence. And in this case, happens to be part of it mass appeal and recognizability.
Ok, that’s all wonderful that Drudge gets so much traffic, but what does that prove? One of the biggest tests of whether a website’s design is successful is the amount of engagement it receives from users.
How long do the users explore the site? What actions do they take? What’s the bounce rate? How likely are they to return? These are all questions to take into account.
What’s stunning, again beyond the sheer amount of traffic, is the engagement of users.
Analysis: Visitors spend average 37 minutes browsing Drudge, versus industry average of just 2.5 minutes: https://t.co/e9A7pB9Kja
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) January 4, 2016
That’s right. The average user spends 37 minutes on the site as opposed to the 2.5 minutes common for most sites. Here’s more from Vocativ on the raw data:
Drudge itself attracts 2 million unique visitors per day, driving more than 600 million pageviews per month, according to Quantcast, but because it’s a page of links, a large chunk of those users go straight on through to his top recommendations. Drudge sent 62 million readers to CBS Local sites between January and July (that’s like directing the entire population of Italy to one website) and 64 million visitors to CNN, according to data from SimilarWeb. Drudge was the number one traffic referrer to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and a host of other outlets, outside of social media and search referrals. Drudge also accounted for 52 percent of all referral traffic to the Associated Press last year, according to a report from SimilarWeb (caveat: that report was produced in partnership with Intermarkets, Drudge’s longtime ad agency, and SimilarWeb only uses a sample of traffic, albeit sizeable).
Visitors typically spend 37 minutes browsing Drudge, versus an industry average of just 2.5 minutes, and its bounce rate—the percentage of visitors who leave the site after viewing a single page—is 43 percent, versus the wider average of 64 percent, according to SimilarWeb.
As I touched on earlier, I’ve received a number of dumbfounded responses throughout the years that I would say a site many consider to be “ugly” to be one of the best-designed sites of all time. Some have agreed, others not so much.
What do you think? Is Drudge one of the best-designed sites around? If not, what do you think is the best-designed site of all time and why? I would love to hear your thoughts!
163 thoughts on “Why Drudge Report Remains the Best-Designed News Website of All Time”
I agree with you on this.
I believe it is the best designed news site of all time. It doesn’t create its own news stories but yet aggregates the news from across the web (whether it be from a conservative mainstream outlet like Fox News to a more liberal/progressive non-mainstream outlet like Salon) into a powerful narrative. Whether one agrees for evil or for good the fact is the Drudge Report executes a narrative extremely well. It only leads a consumer to the top headline and then leaves the viewer to explore the myriad of other links which sometimes follows the headline or in many cases spins to another story or narrative.
Now I do believe if another news organization tried to mimic this sense of chaotic-but-yet-organized aggregation they would fail miserably. There have been many imitators throughout the Drudge Report’s tenure but they have never reached the same viewership and are now lost in the trash-heap of a cult-following or bound to the fringes of the web viewed by original viewership that tried to either mimic or take away viewership from the Drudge Report (which they ultimately failed).
Totally agree on the sites that tried to copy Drudge—they all fell flat.
I think you hit on part of what makes Drudge so timeless: the fact that he started a trend that no one can follow. Not only does that ensure his site stands out, but immediately stops anyone from imitating what he’s created.
Wake up……email……local newspaper on web…..Drudge……..and I’m a huge sports fan. Also lottery results depending on day of week. Drudge is definitely addictive.
What Drudge? No wood paneling on your site? Yer doin it wrong!
Ok I just felt like being sarcastic. I agree on Drudge. Only problem with it is I did not have the idea first.
Drudge has two things:
Clean design that loads quickly.
It’s a throwback to the early days of the web wherein it was the norm. It’s very efficient, especially from Drudge’s point of view since no effort is spent on presentation which is normally where the money goes in web development costs.
Most of his link titles are disingenuous insofar as they proclaim content that is not quite (or at all) what the linked article actually contains. Perhaps we could call that “artistic license”. A less generous description is “link bait”. How many times have you read a linked article and though, hmm, that’s not really what the link headline led me to believe was the major point of the article?
A further point: the headlines imply a certain freshness–like an old-time special edition newspaper–but they are not updated that often.
I suspect if Drudge started afresh, success would not be forthcoming. Momentum is everything.
As someone else said about Drudge, he’s the best copy writer of all time. What you dislike about it is his success at writing attention grabbing headlines.
Sure, I’ve had the same experience as you’ve had. The question is: how does Drudge do it? How does he know that his headline will pull us in? I think with the same skills he has now, he would nonetheless be successful if he started now—because those skills work.
If the only aggregated site I could visit was Drudge, I would still be as well informed AND entertained as I need to be. Thanks, Matt.
Matt does his own thing and it proves to be all more powerful with today’s fast paced news. He doesn’t care about trying to keep up with the new “style” – he just delivers news. Anyone who runs a dynamic site asks themselves, “how does he do it?” He runs a site with more dynamic news than the big boys with hundreds of employees.
“I cannot be controlled” — Matt Drudge
Also great about Drudge’s functionality is that he didn’t follow the widespread trend of bombarding the reader with greater than 60% of the page area covered with ads, many of which break the page layout or worse–redirect the browser to the iPhone app store or some malicious site. There are several sites that I no longer visit because I simply can’t reliably get through the to the actual content. If I have to spend dozens of seconds closing opened browser tabs, dodging pop-up videos, and muting audio playback before I can start reading, I’m not coming back.
Not that Drudge hasn’t been hit by malicious redirecting ads before, but by having fewer ads on the page, the chances of one getting through are lower.
Ummm… 75% of the visits to Drudge today have quickly redirected me to the Google Play store to get the Uber app. It’s done the same thing lately with those obnoxious “your phone needs protection” ads that take over the window and cant be backed out of. It’s also impossible to skim the whole page without suffering through at least one refresh. I’ve become quite irritated with Drudge recently, used to be sooo good, now I’m more irritated than enlightened. Matt needs to actually use his own site on a normal smartphone sometime.
Sorry. It’s not Drudge Report’s fault your phone has been taken over by spam because you’ve installed a thousand useless apps. Those apps are causing you to be taken to the Google Play Store. Next time you install another useless app try reading what they gain access to on your phone before you mindlessly accept.
For example: Why does a flashlight app need access to your location or pictures?
While I agree with your comment about the page being refreshed too often, without any apparent change, I experience none of the other problems you cite. It may be because I use Linux (Kubuntu) as my laptop OS but I do over 90% of my Internet usage using my iPhone 6+ and it does not have those problems either.
I use Drudge because it’s format is simple and as an aggregator site, with rare exceptions, it points to local news stories that other major sites won’t report because it doesn’t fit their narrative.
I think that has more to do with your phone and your provider. I have no problem with ads popping up on my phone when I check Drudge. I have to agree that Drudge has the best designed website. No frills, no flashy graphics, just news, straight news. And I have to laugh at leftists that say that Drudge only runs conservative news. He uses the main stream media against itself by running stories that sometimes are ludicrous. I know from working in TV news, that many reporters and producers turn to Drudge to mine news stories, even if they don’t want to admit it.
In 20 years I have never experienced ANY of this at DRUDGEREPORT.COM. But then – I’ve always considered “smartphones” to be a bane to civilization.
Please give an example of this “redirecting.” I visit Drudge everyday and HAVE NOT had the same experience you have. I am NEVER redirected by ads on Drudge’s site ever!
Yeah your smartphone likely has a redirect bug.
I agree. The smartphone app took a dump a few months ago with an “update.” I rarely even use it anymore… 🙁 Good thing the actual web page is still rockin!
As for the overall esthetics, I don’t care much about that, but if we’re going to talk about esthetics, then Drudge would have been considered ugly even in 1998.
No idea what you’re talking about. I’ve been going to Drudge virtually since day #1. It has been my landing page as long as I can remember. Best design ever.
I am always befuddled why people who complain about internet ads don’t download Adblocker plus.
This one easy-to-set up Firefox or Chrome ad-on will prevent every one of the problems you list.
If you are using Internet Explorer – there is your first problem. Swich to one of the browsers I listed above.
And if you are one of those “I would never use Adblocker!” people….enjoy your ads, and stop complaining. Else get to downloading and installing it.
I agree with the other commenters here. I only read Drudge on a PC and never experience pop-ups or ad re-directs. All I get are the page-refreshes.
I have always loved Drudge Report and will continue to do so if kept up as user friendly. I am quite familiar with “white space” and all the graphical design concepts taught for advertising and print. I’m so sick of all that after being bombarded with it the past 38 years. It’s so nice to just come to Drudge like I’m browsing the old fashioned classified ads that would come out when people actually read print newspaper, so exciting to skim through all the text looking for something cool. I spend more time on this site than any other.
I’ll provide some examples that really pi$$ me off. Let’s take CNN.com and their new layout, barf!!! Then I’ll move on to any Associated Press designed site. I’ll give someone $10 if they can go read any article or watch a video there, let alone scroll without something interfering with what you are doing.
I give sites two strikes. That didn’t last very long, lol. I understand sites needs to make money since no one buys their channels or papers anymore. For the love of God though, stop interrupting someone mid article and stop flashing crap and nonsense all over the freaking place and if I’m scrolling, you best not start to auto play some video I never tapped on! Thank you, rant over, I love Drudge because I can wake up, find what I want fast and without distractions. I never say swear words or wtf as I’m browsing Drudge. Your site is the only site that has kept me from throwing my iPad across the room in a mad rage. Thank you Matt!
I teach Internet ministry courses (Christian use of the web) and I have been saying this for YEARS to blank stares.
Also he keeps his server and bandwidth costs LOW with this design.
1. he has one single html page on his website (not even a form)
2. There are no articles on his site
3. The other sites (he refers to) have the stories, images etc
4. A typical page load for Drudge is 5 hits (one html page plus say 4 graphics) and much less than 100K total.
5. 2 million unique visitors is thus 200GB per day of traffic or say 10-25GB per hour. One solid server operating at 100mb/sec can easily handle it, you can get that in LA for $100 a month from StormColo. Ok double that and say his hosting cost is $250 a month. Even a $1000 – how does that play out for revenue…
6 At advertising revenue of even just 1c per visitor per ad display he gets $20,000 a day.
7. Matt Drudge is an economic genius.
Thank you for addressing the server considerations. I have wondered about that before, but never made time to do the research.
In took no time at all for Drudge to figure out how to get liberal panties into a wad. Headlines made into a link is easy, getting Billions of hits is awesome.
Drudge is a practiced narrative manipulator. He cherry picks conservative leaning articles to paint a right wing narrative. He strategically chooses links that collectively paint a picture he wants you to see, and it is very effective. His chosen photos of left leaning figures are the very worst possible, whereas the photos of right wing figures are flattering or neutral. He rewrites headlines by writing (spinning) as many links as he can.
Drudge itself isn’t news….it’s a calculated aggregate of right wing leaning stories, sprinkled with miscellaneous content. The readers rejoice at the links, as these links form a right wing worldview that the readers desperately seek to read, and it’s entirely controlled by the narcissistic, angry, bigoted and end times obsessed Drudge. The comment sections of all articles Drudge links to are disgustingly polluted with the lowest IQ Americans, who can’t spell, can’t write complete sentences, have no comprehension of science, economics, world affairs….nothing. These are America’s dumb, who have found comfort and who feel strength in numbers. That, my friends, is Drudge Report
The irony, FishHunter… is that The Drudge Report probably runs more links to article content that are politically neutral/left leaning, than any of the mainstream news sites.
Understandably… you don’t like it… given the bias of your post. Presumably, that’s why you didn’t notice that Drudge posts so much content from across the political spectrum, even while clearly elucidating his own personal slant to the amalgamation of stories.
R-I-G-H-T. And the allegedly intellectually superior liberals haven’t been able to create a “left-leaning” alternative that’s anywhere near as successful in the past two decades . . . .
Drudge has the best-functioning, most convenient news aggregation site, regardless of one’s “world view.”
You can beat me … You can Torture me…. But now Fish head you are boring me. Go tell your Gov Boss you are not good as a troll and would rather be a type Nazi. Its funny when you group think people try to tell us narcissistic, angry, bigoted and end times obsessed people you are smarter than us. You only prove our point. Can you think of any more names to call us to avoid the truth which is your world view is that of a Metro sexual? F off….HOGZnCHIX
As someone who works in the media, I can assure you, FishHunter, that news editors on the left also frequently choose unflattering photos of conservative politicians and figures to accompany their supposedly “unbiased” news items. Admittedly, Drudge is more blatant and outrageous about it, but at least he doesn’t pretend he has no bias.
My father, a Harvard educated physician with a genius IQ, told me as a kid “Never, ever, trust people who talk about their IQ or join Mensa.”
You make his point perfectly.
That’s actually good advice. The Mensa members I know are boorish braggarts with entitlement and superiority issues.
They remind me of those nouveau riche folk who just *have* to let you know how their bank accounts and paychecks are doing.
Meanwhile the real rich people are laughing at them.
That is simply ridiculously untrue.
Go check out the (VERY left leaning) Vocative article. Of the top ten sites linked by Drudge last year, they included Fox, (which I am sure you will falsely characterize as “far right”) and the other top nine are left to very left leaning sites.
Your characterization of the photos is also false. However, it should be noted that many left wing sites really do what you are falsely accusing Drudge of doing, only the unflattering photos are of conservatives, and flattering ones of the liberals.
Perhaps the bias lies with you?
“[T]he average user spends 37 minutes on the site.” I believe it. Thank you for the clear review of a great site that I’ve been reading since, well, 1995. It never gets boring.
This article has got to be some kind of joke. A website called “Rightly Designed” that puts brown text against a wood backdrop so I cannot read it? So…I didn’t read it. Back to Drudge Report, where I can easily read his black text against its white background. “Rightly Designed” could learn a few tricks from that…
My apologies—there was a weird quirk in Internet Explorer that was causing some issues—should be at least readable now. (This site design is actually a new one)
IE has been making life a nightmare on web developers since the days Drudge got his start . . . now is no different, unfortunately.
The real question is, why would a reader of Rightly Designed be using IE?
Listen, Ricky Ricardo, go tell Lucy she has some ‘splainin’ to do.
I need to reply to this. Looking back to when the Big 3 search engines were first launching, they all tried to launch at approximately the same time. Ironically Google’s initial launch fell flat and was not as “pretty” as the other search engines. They decided to put up a simple white page with a single box search field. And the rest is history. Guess who is number one.
What makes this interesting is that Google has the same “feel” of the Drudge Report – simple yet elegant. In the earlier years of dial-up internet, this actually made the web pages load faster, which meant more content could be displayed which meant a better web experience.
Fast forward to today, we have pages so cluttered and messy that it is almost impossible to find the actual story. How about all of the ads? Nothing is more annoying when you are trying to digest some content and the ads keep popping up. This is the same reason I dumped cable TV. I could not justify paying someone to deliver TV content while they also receive advertising revenue – and some of those commercials are horribly obnoxious! Great business model but I did not feel it was my duty to help with their “double-dipping”. In the recent months, many people are leaving certain websites because the ad content has reached a point where the website will barely load. As an example, MSN has so much advertising clutter I won’t even visit it anymore. Their unbridled corporate greed has seen fit to drive away many clients. This overreach of content and obfuscation has created a “tortured and painful” web experience that makes surfing a real chore. Some of the new smart phones are also taking an approach that allows them to cut down on displayed ads. The anecdotes are endless of people talking about how the sites they visited would barely load UNTIL they installed an ad blocker. Yay for the free market!
All of that being said, The Drudge Report loads fast, stays away from “over-advertising” and refreshes continuously. One thing that I really noticed is that during election cycles, The Drudge Report had the current election results faster and more accurate than any of the other stations – including FOX. I think that is one of the things I like about Drudge, he is rarely wrong and I feel like he has earned my trust, which is not true for the other media outlets.
How does Matt Do it? The old fashion way. He doesn’t spend tons of time on a perfect site design and silly gotcha games of the MSM! As a professional report he is doing real old fashion reporting unlike the progressive liberal socialist bias talking heads that are so overly abundant in today’s main stream media! That is a big part of his amazing abilities and the MSMs downfall! Keep it up MAT!
The only problem (for users) is the constant reloading of the page (to get his numbers up for ad $ ?) Seems like 2-5 “reloads” every time I’m on there
There are free apps that stop automatic reload. The best app that I’ve found for Firefox is called YesScript which allows you to blacklist sites and prevent them from executing auto reload and running Java script. Doing this enhances the Drudge experience by completely eliminating the reloads. I’m guessing that millions of Drudge readers have already discovered this little trick.
When you are on sites that want to run a lot of “interference,” simply click the YesScript icon on the tool bar and the site is blacklisted (no running script) until you click the icon again then reload. I have also discovered that when a site freezes up your browser, you can usually unfreeze it by opening Task Manager (alt-cntrl-del) then find the most active plugin-container and stop the process. Works great.
My Chromebook just ignores the reloads, Thanks, Google! But if I’m using something else, I just right click/save as/whatever.html
Then I open the saved copy of the page. Next visit I once again save. Easy Peasy.
There are some rather complicated steps you can take to stop the auto reloads, but I find it far easier to just take 10 seconds to save the page and then open it as a local html file.
From day one, the Drudge website has remained my one source I start with everyday, 7 days a week. I consciously try to avoid CNN, MSNBC, USA today, etc…..EXCEPT when the Drudge features a link to these sites. And your review is spot-on. The Drudge has created a simple, elegant style all its own. Matt and his team are a real presence in this shiny, glittering web-based world. One day, someone will pen the line ‘ Zen and the art of Drudge website design’ – like they did for ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’. Its that simple.
Most sites now are chaotic, busy, flashy, and even difficult to navigate to compensate for a lack of substance – even necessity.
My day starts with Drudge and usually ends with Drudge. Where else can you get a sense of what’s happening around the world. The Drudge Report is like a box of Crackerjacks, offering up some daily surprises..:)
For YEARS and years I got my news online from CNN and NBC’s pages….
But they are now nothing more then Ad servers now.
I still visit CNN daily to see what the left is up too and am a few hundred of those unique hits a week on Drudge.
At least on Drudge you can tell whats CONTENT and whats ADVERTISEMENT.
Thomas – Agree 1000%. I have been reading Drudge since before Monica broke when he was putting up links about the Ron Brown plane crash in Europe.
My wife has been amazed when she will try to tell me about something that she has seen on TV throughout the day – she works at home – and I will let her know that I have already heard about it. She will exclaim that I must just sit at work all day and surf the ‘Net. I tell her all it took was checking Drudge a few times that day – on the train to and from work and while eating lunch and I am as informed as anyone who devotes hours to reading the newspaper, watching TV, or pulling up website after website.
I can sum it up in one word – content. The old adage “I want news not fluff” is fulfilled with a trip to the Drudge Report. One error above – the signalvnoise excerpt says “Stories aren’t grouped or organized” which is incorrect. Matt Drudge uses horizontal lines to group similar or related stories. The order may be random but the grouping is by related content.
Please add a pause on refresh.
First place I check every day!
Site design might be the primary attraction, but remember also that Matt Drudge is a gifted headline writer. And the man has a nose for news.
The gift for writing good headlines is why he’s not just a good news aggregator. He’s a good observer of the news.
The site is unobtrusive. The content is salient. It’s a very simple “go to” site to stay on top on current events.
I have often told my friends (and enemies) that Drudge is the most gifted headline writer that has ever existed. Second to his gift for great headlines is his grouping of headlines. The headline grouping very often provides more news than the headline destinations.
Yes Matt is one of the greatest newsmen of all time..
Everything works on Drudge. The blaring headlines get right to the point and the Easter Egg hunt for new stories ensures people will “drudge” through all the rest to find a new gem.
I agree. I check Drudge regularly during the day.
Drudge has been mu go-to for years. Each morning starts with my mug of tea and, ironically, about the same ½ an hour listed in the article before bouncing on. Nothing is more trusted or ore up to date. Your evaluation is spot on.
Matt does like his positive press.
I work in design as well, and I must concur…Drudge is a timeless classic. It’s managed to become iconic in so many ways. Which kind of creates it’s own problems – at some point it *will* have to be updated somehow. And as a designer, I’d be terrified to even touch it.
…….and now, you too have seen the power of the DR with this article 🙂
We all know of a restaurant that well looks dated and a bit rough but has great food.
This is drudge..
I agree on the design. It’s just plain simple, and most importantly: To the Point.
Believe it or not, I love visiting because I find the headline links to the stories entertaining on their own. If you look at it this way, with the very short headlines telling a story: Drudge has been “tweeting” for over a decade before Twitter even existed.
There is a reason I don’t use Yahoo anymore, it used to be my homepage. They crammed so much data and switched the basic format to a “new and improved” format and look, I lost interest.
Sometimes things are best left alone ie… Coca-Cola, New COKE was better blah blah blah, no Coke is better.
Some things are better left old, tried and true like your favorite old T-shirt and sneakers. They might look old and worn, but they get the job done and they are really comfortable.
Drudge is like a box of chocolates.
A SEE’s Candy box of chocolates.
I used to get really annoyed at the Drudge site because it keeps refreshing without giving me time to digest what I want to see.
Easy solution: Disable Java Script on your browser. That kills the automatic reload, prevents the garbage,
linked pages load a LOT faster, and you don’t get the auto-start videos, the rotating bunch of videos filling
space on The Blaze and Breitbart, and I get a much more peaceful access to a lot of news.
Sometimes I have to re-enable Java Script for a given site, but most sites remain reasonably well-behaved,
making it worthwhile.
Try YesScript (A Firefox add-on)
Every other news site is slow to load, has annoying videos that start talking, ads in annoying places hoping for accidental clicks, Drudge is simple, straightforward and most importantly, usable. Some news sources I will immediately close without reading the article because they have too much going on to be legible. Drudge the home page on my browser I check it multiple times a day.
Look, I like Drudge but these comments are ridiculous. “Drudge does real reporting!” No he doesn’t, he links to other sites of , …uh oh…the dreaded Main Stream Media, who actually spend the time and money for reporting and investigating. And these people who get all their news from Drudge?? Are you incapable of searching for information yourself? You want to completely rely on one guy’s cherry picking of news…(a guy with an agenda I might add.) He is also a fake. If Hillary wins (which is what he really wants, a return to his glory days of fighting the Clintons) he will make an enormous amount of money linking to sites critical of her, all the while, looking like a hero for supporting Trump. Brilliant plan….for him. You all are very gullible.
JosephRay you are in error….
Even “if” you think Drudge is “biased” in his linking to the Conservative side, Drudge links to everyone and anyone that has articles of importance. By his doing that can you guess what is occuring? We spend time on those websites reading other types or articles and viewpoints. For example, Drudge regularly links to liberal websites.
In contrast, people like liberals who like propaganda like a few websites and that’s basically ALL you read. Thus, you’re not getting a full and true perspective of things, and different view points. Drudge is the ultimate height of “Fair & Balanced”, because his readers SEE EVERYTHING….. and then we judge for ourselves because he sends us to everything. Thus, it is YOU liberals who are “gullible”, who are incapable of “searching” etc. Drudge helps us see the whole truth, you liberals like your propaganda instead.
You have far to go Grasshopper….you understand not!
for sure but why when it’s all there on one site, he is a one page yellow pages for news! but he does do more than just list sites, his headers steer you to whats happening now. so while he is not making news in a sense he is getting that updated news to you faster! democrats do not want people to go to some sites, he gets people to all the sites! that’s why obama said i can’t control drudge. the web is free or do you want dems to moderate it for you?
he also links sites critical to trump. she just happens to have so many problems that everyone is writing stuff about her! by the way do you think all women claiming rape should be believed?
See ya at Burning Man!
He also links to blogs and other alternative news sites that are ignored by the leftist media- ignored until he forces them to deal with these sites and the news they provide, many times news that the “gatekeepers” of the democrat controlled mainstream news would rather you didn’t see. Other than Drudge, MSM’s mission is to highlight stories that help the left and hide those that don’t. Drudge is still instrumental in breaking that embargo against news that hurts the left.
Agreed! Thank you. I stop by Drudge every once in awhile to see what the current spin he is putting on things is, to get an idea of what people are absorbing…However there is no way his “cherry picking,” of what he says is news,
is the way I’m going to view the world, I can actually still think & search for myself!
“And these people who get all their news from Drudge?? Are you incapable of searching for information yourself?”
Your childish bias thunders like a Clinton-Albright encouraged North Korean H-Bomb. No person has time to sort through hundreds of news websites. I can watch all the big networks and read my local newspaper. None of them have ever informed me, but rather have given extreme biased content and straight out lies with no correction or apology. Liberalism is a closed minded, fascist propaganda machine to which you subscribe and demand all follow. We are independent thinkers. Much more knowledgeable than you or your masters. You keep lying to yourself and to others. That is who you are.
Another bitter clinger hanging on to his ideology and Emperor. Not only are you a minority opinion, you are a minority party thanks to your Emperor. You have lost over 1000 seats of government in 8 years, a sweep so large that nothing that large has been seen in over 100 years. Blaming the messenger, so….how’s that working out for ya?
“You want to completely rely on one guy’s cherry picking of news…(a guy with an agenda I might add.)”
Wouldn’t that describe virtually every newspaper editor, news magazine editor, and website editor in the world?
Nope. Google.com is the best designed website. Drudge runs a close second.
In both cases it’s the same thing, they give me what i want and fast. They load faster than i can think and don’t give me a headache with moving content overload. And neither consumes vast resources. I can open a tab and leave it on Drudge – for days – i can’t do that with too many other sites.
When other websites were loading slow because they were fancy but internet speed could not keep up, could not handle what they were loading, Drudge loaded quick – with its all text design and no pictures. Drudge delivered news fast…and still does.
As a working designer I’ve been saying this for years to the scoffs and condescending beaming out of other designer’s wayfarer glasses. Now, of course I imagine that’s a loathing for the combination of it’s “dated” design, slanted “impact” font (He was Mr. Impact before “memes” got to it) and his libertarian-conservative bent. Most graphic designers (and to be fair, their clients) focus on the ‘graphic’ and not enough on the design, as well as the vagaries of SEO BS and other monetization strategies. Drudge remains eternal. It loads just as good on a phone as it does over a 2400 baud modem. Unlike so many things designed since the internet began, it has a consistent force and philosophy committed to doing what it does well, and thus it endures.
Best designed? That’s crazy! Where’s the feedback? Any site without a dedicated feedback section is lacking. Sure it’s a general purpose redirect but I was lead to Drudge years ago because the scuttlebutt was that this site was “breaking” news. While this site does have a decent blend of “fair and balanced” what I’m looking for is “breaking”, “in depth” coverage that gives me “new” insight whether it is consistent with my point of view or not. In fact, I really long for the site that provides a contrasting view (to mine) with in depth detail so I can re-evaluate my opinion. I constantly find the re-directs to be “surface level” reports with no real gravitas. For example, after each Republican debate I checked this site for in depth contrasting views but was surprised to find almost no references. Huh? It’s a fine site, it loads fast, it’s annoying that it constantly refreshes and makes me search for where I left off (this alone makes it fail as “best designed”).
Great website @ drudge, but I think we could all do without the page refeshes every 10 seconds. News doesn’t move THAT fast. Simply laid out page is a plus, but a bit slow loading, probably a lot of tracking and nefarious stuff embedded in the page.
Drudge’s success is because Content Is King not because of the design of the site. I really hate the way the site continuously refreshes itself.
Hey, I actually don’t agree with this…..
Reason being is because since I’ve started using Drudge years ago there are three things I never could stand.
1. No actual “design” to it. Now, I totally believe it should remain “simple” and clean similar to how it currently is, but it certainly can and should be improved. Further, there’s no reason he can’t do more non-intrusive ads and make a few bucks.
2. “New articles” are entirely confusing on where to look, when they were posted, etc. I feel like I’m always having to almost always look at every link Title to see what I already saw. This is entirely “disorganized” and always irritating for me. There should be a date/time indicator, and the newest news should show up in one spot, other than the highlighted news in the corner of course.
3. The “Archives” are a bit hard to find. Also, why when clicking on a Timeline calendar link it goes to a page with times. I suppose I understand why they do that, but then we need the Recent Headlines section to have some “calendar” ability also so I can see a listing like the Recent Headlines listing when I go back in time.
So, I think there are better designed websites out there because of these big flaws that are always irritating to me.
BTW, this website is a very nice design. Drudge doesn’t have to be as fancy like this, but it can be improved and still be clean and minimal.
Long live Drudge, getting the whole truth out from ALL sources including liberal ones.
Not propagandising people like other “news” websites do. We are able to see it ALL because of Drudge, because being a “news aggregate” we get the Liberal side also, not simply the Conservative side. Drudge is thus the definition of Fair and Balanced. The Truth is not Conservative….. well, maybe it is, and that’s why Drudge is so important.
Amazing article and comments are from intelligent grown ups. I have used Drudge for years and same thing..start my day..check throughout my day..last thing at night with Twitter feeds..if he tweets that siren..I am clicking instantly! He knows we want information..not fluff, as one said..No one can know everything..but the ones who will win are the ones that know where to find information. He is a gatherer and saves us incredible time in our insatiable hunt for news and information. I hope they never change the basics of this site.
Drudge: is like the phrase from Walter Cronkite “And that’s the way it is,”
It tells the news at it is.
Drudge is to liberals what Trump is to rino Republicans- they make their heads explode in incredulity.
My favorite quote from several years back:
“People habituate web sites which reward their habitation.”
— and in this Drudge delivers almost every time! Something new, fresh — maybe not in the headline, but what’s that? They moved that story I was following to a different column, and in its place, something new and different!
I wouldn’t have coffee every morning if it didn’t deliver a great aroma, a delicious taste and a little jolt of warmth and caffeine. And Drudge does that for me several times a day – with no flashy graphics or design features. Brilliant!
I’ve thought this for years, as well, without necessarily having a list of reasons. Drudge simply does the job, and does it well. It’s good design because I instantly know how to use the site and can find what I am looking for. And yes, it loads instantly.
You wanted to know which other sites have good design? I’m surprised no one’s mentioned Craigslist. It’s – again – an “ugly” site, but it WORKS. And I don’t see anyone complaining – it’s a popular site that people use.
Google has good design and hasn’t changed their search page, basically, ever.
Reddit actually has a very good design as well, and it has a genius way of mastering user engagement. The addictiveness factor of Reddit can’t be topped.
Some design maxims every site should incorporate:
– Simplicity is usually best
– Usability trumps flashiness
– Speed is of utmost importance
Besides all this, CONTENT is really what it comes down to. A site has to give value to its visitors, or the best design is worthless. Providing value is what Drudge does better than all the other news sites – bar none.
That, paired with the simplicity, usability, and page load speed is what has kept that humble-looking news page at the top.
I like drudge, and his report — however I’m gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you.
I like the ‘just the news’ look; but I don’t like its actual look. The only thing that stands out for me is the font. This is also part of web design — figuring out how to keep the ‘look’, while making the look better. With drudge, the news ‘look’ is what is linked to functionality — and it works, even if it can be tweaked. But the look relating to spacing, eye focus, information delivery efficiency and other things that go into design are all lacking.
However, because his site has content — it works. Very well. But that’s the content. Not the look. Not the feel. Not the… design.
In the 90s I worked for a ‘Bell Operating Company’. Being an AT&T descendant, even in the 80s, the internet, such as it was then, was just ‘there’ on our systems. Few understood what they had but some curious among us ventured into this interesting world. Management didn’t even understand what we were doing as the capability was known only to those curious enough to seek it out. I remember when the ‘web’ came along and very shortly Drudge. Been a fan since ‘day-1’.
I must say that I have a mental condition called Drugeaphoria. I can’t resist it. As you said, it takes just a few minutes to scan most everything I want to know about, and then I can dig in at random. When you combine this with my YouTube Subscription Grid for my YouTube channel subscriptions, you get the same thing for a Vlogger (me again, I know).
To get the same Drudge look and feel for YouTube, you have to add an add-on (I have no idea why YouTube removed this feature). However, once in place, you get a Drudge like look of your YouTube channel subscriptions. Very nice indeed.
Drudge has opened up my browser since 1996. I live outside the USA and find it to be the best way to keep informed. I have often wondered why it has not been exactly imitated for specialized news themes.
Perfect as is! Don’t change a thing!
As a Drudge junkie for almost 20 years, I would of course agree with the author. But for me it is the confidence that his range is wide and thorough. If he had a narrow range of aggregation, then it would be tempting to supplement but for raw news it is the best start. For opinion and politics I supplement with Real Clear Politics. I average about 1000 hits a year on his site.
he is best because it is a easy way to learn what you want to find out! while dems scream conservative because they have no clue what the truth is he just gets you to the places you want not the ones they want you to go though he has their places also, he opens up what they try to hide! i would not be surprised that he also has the most homepage on all the computers of america and maybe a a lot more worldwide! while not mine his site is the first i go to the most!
One question tho: how does “bounce rate” apply to Drudge, the metric concerning “leaving the site after viewing one page”, when Drudge is uniquely a one-page site. Now and then he has a link that goes to one of his bulletin pages, but 99% of the time you have the front-page and that’s it. If they are not “bouncing” away from drudge, where else on the site are they going?
I had the same question. Maybe if you go to another page by clicking on a link in Drudge it doesn’t count as a “bounce”.
Reminds me of this piece by Jason Fried back in 2008, saying the same thing.
Drudge is a classic.
The auto-refresh rate is far too short.
Design is important, but what draws me back to Drudge is trust. Longtime readers know that he has a strong libertarian ethic, but it’s a lie to write him off as so many do as a conservative hatchet man. I like the Drudgereport because I trust Mat to get the story across without the right/left spin. I am not saying he is perfect, but he is certainly better than anybody else.
I liken Drudge to Reader’s Digest. For years, RD broke all the conventions on magazine design, yet they remained the #1 magazine. They were a big question mark for designers, but for readers? They loved Reader’s Digest.
i needed a news source that let me decide what is important. i wanted a way to find news that wasn’t being manipulated by the liberal press. and the country has a source that reports on the almost unbelievable corruption that has spewed from this administration from week one.
Drudge is efficient above all with my time. He posts news faster and more broadly than any other site. He loads when other sites have problems loading. Drudge gives succinct headlines, no more misleading than most other news sites, and spans a very wide range of viewpoints. And . . . he has a sense of humor.
Other web behaviors overwhelmingly irritating are auto play “news” segments, gray text on gray background that cannot be read, a talking head taking up 60 percent of a segment, gratuitous animations for no information, mystery buttons to access content, clutter stealing 75 percent of a screen real estate. It is especially infuriating when a web site hangs up loading because of some ad that has a glitch. I could go on and on.
Drudge exemplifies the old, but very true saying, “less is more.”
My gripe is no cursor hover. I don’t wanna give my clicks to the NYT, WaPo, Cbs, Bloomberg, Yahoo, etc. Been my homepage since ’97.
As early as the mid 1990s, Vincent Flanders was preaching that the successful web page is for the CUSTOMER to be able to get information fast. Complicated web sites made the designers were trying to look good to their peers and to win awards. To quote Jerry De La Femina, “They forgot who the customer is.” Suggest you check out http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com to learn about web page design.
“Is Drudge one of the best-designed sites around?”
No. Not even close. And in answering this question, it’s important to distinguish between site success and site layout, which are two very different things. I tell clients that you can have the best layout in the world but without content you won’t see traffic. However, if you have great content, then your layout is only important to the extent that your readers can navigate (setting aside obvious branding issues).
The DRUDGE REPORT (note the all caps) is one of those “once in a lifetime sites” where the “Build and they will come” rule applies. He launched in the early years of the internet and has benefited immensely from readers adapting to his layout rather than adapting his layout to industry standards. Now he’s king.
You may easily prove my position that DRUDGE is not well designed by one simple test: Try selling it to your next client. Sure, not everyone wants a stripped-down aggregate but those who do still want features that DRUDGE, after all these years, has not bothered to implement. Two examples will suffice:
1. God bless DRUDGE — but for the life of me I don’t know why he doesn’t make his pics clickable.
2. His underlined links are the death of white space, adding lines upon lines, inside a heavily gridded table. It would be so much better if he saved that element for hover.
3. Here’s a third just for fun: DRUDGE’s logo looks like his sixteen-year-old neighbor threw it together as a favor on a lark: “How’s this, Matt?”
What’s good about the layout? His use of Courier is perfect. It evokes the gumshoe feel of American Typewriter in cyberspace. His use of black text on a white background is perfect, because it provides essential contrast and legibility for his headlines. And his clever use of the top-left hole to feature running stories is perfect. Other than that, the DRUDGE REPORT is the cyber equivalent of an ecological disaster — it violates every principle of design.
The DRUDGE REPORT’s success is due solely to his fantastic content and his equally fantastic headlines. 80% politics, 20% tabloid. I love it. And as an aside, there’s nothing in the world like the rush of getting a DRUDGE inbound — if he doesn’t melt your server.
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Once you have read through Drudge in the morning with a cup of coffee……my news is finished for the day…that is…..Until I refresh Drudge an hour later!!!
DrudgeReport has been my homepage since the Bill Clinton rape scandals. I will manually go into family and friends computers and laptops to set their homepage at Drudge. People are so uninformed it is frightening. DrudgeReport is the only website which gives me a very broad summary of what is happening domestically and abroad. Links to stories I never knew existed. It’s fascinating to see how one site will carry a major story/scandal, while no other major news outlet will say a peep, ever. You begin to see planned conspiracy bias of the media. I do not understand why anyone would say Drudge is a conservative right wing website unless they have a liberal agenda and spin. Half of his stories link to liberal news outlets like AP and Reuters. Are not 95% of all media biased in favor of Democrats? From the links I’ve seen, Matt has the gift of education and teaching. All right and left media mock InfoWars, yet Matt plays no favorite student when linking exclusive big news stories to that ostracized informer. The Drudge visit with Alex Jones a month or so ago was eye opening. Shocking when you hear just a few things he has to say. If Matt wrote a tell all book, the entire world could possibly change overnight. Copycats are all biased. They can never and will never be as diverse and independent as Drudge. Once you are an informed reader, you are permanently hooked. I feel like I’m a trophy mounted on Matt’s information age wall.
I’ve been a Drudge n two cups to start the day for over ten years. When you have a moment to check up on things wheather it is the latest in world affairs or the fiasco in our backyard, I start here. I laugh at the folks that say it’s too far to the right. By starting with Drudge then hitting a few other sites including the local papers it is safe to say it’s news and not propaganda directing.
Way to go Matt!!! I only wish Oregon would make it on Drudge in a better light. It’s always some crime, a group of hilljacks or some wacky law that makes Drudge put Oregon on his site.
I was never one to “keep up” and always felt embarrassed that I never knew what people were talking about. Now with Drudge as my home page, I read about news that others talk about two days later (if at all). I am well-informed, and have in-depth knowledge about a wide-range of topics. If a argumentative person asks me where I read something that might be controversial, I quote the original source such as AP or Washington Post — that usually stumps them. Thank you, Drudge, for making me more of a well-rounded, educated person.
I agree. And if the news sites that Drudge links to would follow a similar design we would not have to put up with all the herky-jerky, slow loading, crap-enabled, auto-running video, and general bullshit while trying to read something.
And perhaps then some of us who click on a link in Drudge would actually hang around on another news site long enough to to read something.
And there are powers that want to shut him down. His crime? Linking. His real crime? He skews conservative and is influential. There are those who are all for free speech…until it disagrees with their speech, then they would silence you. If we care about liberty, keep government out of this free market of ideas and expression we call the internet.
His success boils down to 2 things:
1. His content is from both the left and right. The left tries to ignore him, but just can’t. I’m sure it kills them to have to visit. (Multiple times a day of course. Hah!)
2. “Less is More” (The design. Other sites try to dazzle with more bells and whistles. Most times it just ends up being more annoying)
Why i agree the website is accessible and easy to read. Drudge Report and sites like it that aggregate content are only successful because content creators have failed to create a standard for user access. A lot of the time many of the links on Drudge simply go to gated pages because content is protected. What happens to Drudge if publishers and actual journalist (Matt Drudge is NOT a journalist) protect the content they produce?
Oh wait, that’s already happening. Are you willing to accept the narrative that free content is 100% accurate? (a lot of drudge free content is valid, but a ton of it is also garbage and factually inaccurate).
I find Gated links usually come from a narrow agenda. DRUDGE has a few but not like other sites.
Matt Drudge pulled together all the leading stories of interest nationwide as well as international onto a fast, easy to access site AND did the job the lamestream would not, report the stories. The angst liberals feel is that foolish things they did locally stayed local. Now liberal excess is front and center nationwide in minutes and that has them reeling.
Sounds good. My brother forwarded this to me. I have confidence in his choices.Thank you.
Black text on white background! Every website designer should learn it, lone it, and live it.
Gray text is like mumbling — you must not have anything important to say. White text on black hurts the eyes.
The one thing I really don’t like about Drudge’s design is how it reloads by itself every few seconds. I find that annoying.
Black text on white background! All website designers should learn it, love it, and live it.
Gray text is like mumbling — you must not have anything important to say. White text on black hurts the eyes — means you must not want people to look at your site much.
I am sure, Mr. McGee, that as you penned an article laden with fulsome praise for newsdom’s most notorious and unrepentant narcissist, you gave no thought whatever to the probability that he would seek it out, post a link, and lend your own traffic on this site a healthy if anomalous spike. Nicely, if a little transparently, done.
It looks a newspaper. Doesn’t reinvent the wheel. They got it right the first time.
My only complaint is the auto-refresh. I’ll be scanning down the columns and the page suddenly refreshes itself. There have been times I’ve noticed a headline but before I was able to click it, the page refreshed and the headline was no longer there. Come on Drudge, we are quite capable of refreshing the page all by ourselves if we want to.
That’s my only complaint about the site, it can get rather annoying.
You missed one very important element of Drudge’s success: his headline writing ability is second to none. It makes a big difference in whether or not someone clicks on the link.
If Drudge has the best designed website of all time, I would loathe to see the worst.
Check http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com to get your wish.
Your assessment is spot on! I’ve been a long time visitor to the Drudge site because it has a link to all the news and entertainment sources you might want to visit, links to specific writers; its brilliant! I’ve always hoped the never decides to “improve the look” because that would be a disaster. Its so easy to run through, so easy to use, and is a great source!
The behind-the-scenes trick that Drudge uses, is to put his own sarcastic, funny spin on each article in the way he writes each headline. For instance, he will put a picture of a freezing cold day next to an article on global warming. He is far more than an aggregator, but is a commentor by his expressions and choice of phrases. While other sites simply choose a headline that says what happened, Drudge’s are always what he feels about it, despite not spelling it out. The humor is a good part of what attracts people.
Of course, as article mentions and other commentors here pointed out, the extremely fast loading, and the not being encumbered by all kinds of annoying ads that cover up and are overlaid on top to block you from reading are also an important part of equation. Nobody has time to waste. You can take in entire day’s news in about 1-2 minutes. Then you can explore individual links to get more detail. The amazing efficiency is what people need in today’s fast paced world.
I sure hope he never gives in to all the nonsensical style fads, and bloats site with useless and annoying garbage. Keep up the great work, Matt Drudge, and thanks to Rightly Designed for a nice analysis.
Drudge has been my daily news paper for 20 years. The simplicity of the site makes it the most user friendly experience on the web. The site alignes perfectly with the small screen of a smart phone. Double tap a column and it fits perfectly on your screen. Ever try using the Huffington Post who’s business model was based on Drudge? It is glitchy and the ad redirects often crash the page.
Anyone who reads the Drudge links first thing in the morning will notice his work being referred to throughout the day. Lead story in the televised news? A Drudge headline. Hot topic on talk radio? A Drudge link. Congressman bloviating hot air on the house floor? The idea came from Drude. That picture of Hillary at an awkward moment? Drudges sense of humor.
I have been involved in web page design since the late 90s, back when vi and notepad were the tools of choice. I cringed when tools like Front Page showed up and marketing was more concerned with gadgets and roll-over buttons than if a page worked. As I tried to explain to a marketing director once, the wonderment of a pretty page wears off after the first few times. We want pages our customers can use day in and day out easily, load quickly, and are dependable.
I’m not against these things, far from it. I love using single-page web applications that are fast and responsive. But, as someone who continues writing this things, I hate working on the back end trying to make them work on all browsers. I wonder sometimes if the cost is actually worth it, that if we wrote pages like Drudge did, if our applications would be just as responsive and a lot easier to write.
Thanks Matt for at least providing an alternative that we can point to and say ‘But look what Matt does without all that crap!’ And thanks for providing a page that I visit several times a day because it’s just about the only news site that presents interesting and important stories first, stores about celebrities last.
“””””””0bama the beast”””””””””””””””””Bush false prophet”””””””””””””””
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
1` month left and 7yrs tribulation will be up give or take a day or two.
The worst has yet to come. Sorry but I don’t know the day or hour.
King James Bible
For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
“The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.
The Beast is 0bama and the ten kings are the 10 Governors of the FEMA regions.
The Drudge website is difficult to read. One has to work their way through all of those headlines, most of which are in black and indistinguishable from each other. If one wants to find out what is listed you have to wade through it which makes it tiring to engage with.
On the other hand, I can’t argue with the results.
70 million average monthly visits can’t be wrong! Ironically, it seems whatever Drudge emphasizes as a lead story, the mainstream media that ‘claims’ to loathe the site just ‘happens’ to piggyback whatever he finds interesting. I wouldn’t doubt that many of those visits ARE from the mainstream media and government. THAT is power!!
Drudge from day one knew that a Headline in journalism is invaluable. With the hyperlink it became even more priceless. The genius of the Drudge Report is the headline, and the interactive nuance of the headline/topic and link. Brilliant, Informative, Provocative everything Journalism once was all at ones finger tip.
No matter what your political leanings Drudge always has something interesting from both sides. And there are always a few non-political stories that are darn interesting!
I always enjoy the flattering sexy, photos he scrounges up of Pelosi, HRC, etc.
I have the website as my homepage and depend on it to give me an immediate news overview.
One source of irritation of late is Drudge sending me to websites I have to pay to use. I don’t know if there is a payment Drudge receives for doing so, but it is irritating.
A siren is a sound generating device. Drudge uses a flashing light. Look it up.
I absolutely love Drudge and check the site multiple times per day. He cuts through the lies and cover-ups of the Democratic controlled mainstream media (which of course, is why progs hate him).
This is great. It’s just missing the part where Drudge purposefully places his photos and news stories that entertain and influence.
My only complaint is the constant reloads. It always happens while I’m scanning headlines, so I have to wait for it to finish, scroll back down and find where I left off. But great source of info, so I’ll keep going there until something better comes along.
This would be true except for this piece of code that leaves it stuck in the 90’s
You rightly acknowledge the importance of good usability in design yet imply that the Drudge site is very usable. I think you’re confusing the site’s usefulness for good usability. A design professional should be keenly aware of the difference.
From the much-maligned page refresh (do those count toward his massive page view stats?) to the chaotic arrangement of links to the lack of visited-link style to the excessive use of harder-to-read ALL CAPS to the hard-to-find archives, the Drudge Report is a usability disaster. You even point out that the site is not responsive, even though it would be the easiest site ever to make responsive – why do you give him a pass on that?
And I call BS on that average of 37 minutes of engagement per user. If they’re talking about actively interacting/browsing Drudge’s link – even combined time across multiple sessions – there’s just no way that figure is accurate. Think about how much time you spend per day engaged on the site and compare to that figure. Anyone even come close?
I get the shock value of calling this aesthetically ugly site well-designed, thus calling attention to the value of simplicity and usefulness, but those two attributes alone do not add up to good design. There are several things that could be done to improve the usability without sacrificing the simplicity and usefulness.
This is the major problem with modern design and usability theory—it’s based far too much on biased feelings and opinions, while ignoring the facts and data.
Just from browsing the comments section alone, you can see a plethora of people confirming why they return to Drudge time and again—plus others saying they spend right around thirty minutes on the site—giving some confirmation to the engagement stats.
Yet the response is to tell such people, in effect, what they should perceive as usable.
The people have spoken. Drudge is one of the most prolific news sources on the web, not by following what many see as the precepts of web design, but by creating a browsing experience unlike any other. Something that’s usable would be defined as something that people want to use—is it not? Why else do people return so faithfully unless, as has been noted, they enjoy using the site?
Drudge has become massively successful, not by being what web developers and designers think it should be, but as it actually is—refreshes, scattered links, white background and all.
Our job should not lie in trying to explain what *should* produce the success of a site, but what *did* produce its success. Otherwise, we might as well go on telling the sky why it shouldn’t be blue.
There’s much to learn in the realm of web design and usability—especially among those who have some of the most successful sites around the globe.
I appreciate the response. I can assure you that UX professionals (myself included) care very much about facts and data. Analytics are important, but what we care about most is the data we gather through usability testing. Ideally, we put our opinions aside about a design and let the testing results show whether it works or not.
I would argue that the Drudge Report is successful despite its poor usabilty/design. We’ve learned a lot over the years about what frustrates users. There are many usability guidelines that can be universally applied because we see users struggle with these same issues time and time again. That is why I can confidently say the Drudge site has major usability issues.
The Drudge Report is successful due to its content and the informative/entertainment value it provides. Its users come back several times a day for that and have learned how to deal with its problems. But if we were to conduct usability testing on it, we’d quickly find evidence of frustration with the page refresh, the disappearing links, etc. You can see from the comments here that a large percentage get pissed off when the page refreshes.
Drudge’s approach may be “Why fix what isn’t broken?” The problem is that he either doesn’t realize how broken it is or shies away from change because the site is so very popular.
Regarding the engagement time, perhaps the time spent following his links and reading those articles (engagement on those sites) and then returning to Drudge is all being counted as engagement on his site. Certainly it doesn’t take all that long to read the headlines. If that is the case, the numbers make more sense, but I disagree with including all that time as engagement on his site.
Lastly, speaking of biased feelings and opinions, your entire article is steeped in it while ignoring the very real usabilty problems.
Therein is the problem: the things that have been outlined as “poor usability” are the things so many have come to know and even *prefer* from Drudge. The all caps. The disappearing links. It’s all a part of the overall user experience and encompasses its usability—which again—people like.
I’ll quote Jason Fried again here, who really has hit the nail on the head:
I contend that if Drudge were to have a number of today’s usability experts give him a list of changes to make to his site based upon conventional wisdom, it would lose its effectiveness. It’s like Twitter changing its character limit from 140 to 10,000.
Part of the whole premise of the Drudge experience is that it’s raw news. You’re getting it before anyone else. It’s there for you to explore and discover. It’s the nation’s “tip sheet” if you will. And the way the links are arranged, type has been positioned, and images used; do this in an effective and unique manner.
Lastly, I’ll come back to one of my previous points: the web has only grown since the time Drudge began. There are more web news sources now more than ever before and even more news aggregate services. Yet Drudge’s readership has *grown* and continues to do so. That to say, while Drudge does a great job crafting headlines and finding the news, it’s hardly likely that with so many other news options available, millions of people would overcome a “usability disaster” just to hunt down his links.
The only other logical conclusion, as many have already attested, is that people *enjoy* using the site and thus, continue to do so.
Well, we seem to have a fundamental disagreement about what good usability is. You seem to suggest that a site has good usability if the users enjoy using the site, regardless of any difficulties they encounter, whereas I would say a site has good usability if users do not get frustrated using the site. I see the logic of your argument, but as web professionals we cannot ignore user frustration.
I visit Drudge a few times a day. I enjoy seeing what he has posted, but often get annoyed with how it is presented, and of course, the page refresh interrupts my browsing on a daily basis. Yes, it would be alienating to many users to changed the design, and that is well worth considering. At the very least, the site could provide a way to give users control over that page refresh – how often it occurs or even an on/off switch. Web usability has improved a great deal since Drudge’s site debuted, but his site has not matured along with the rest of the web. People got hooked on it in the 90’s and are used to its primitive design.
Remember when Facebook made a big change to its design a few years ago? Throngs of people had a huge hissy fit because they liked the old design. But they got used to the new (better) design. Obviously Facebook is a much more complex website, but this example suggests that even though users enjoy using a site as it is, UX improvements can and should still be made. Facebook has embraced advancing technology and the users have benefited. Drudge is still stuck in the 90’s.
I remember reading Fried’s article in 2008 (and took umbrage in the comments!), so quoting him will not persuade me. At any rate, the prosecution hereby rests. Thanks for the debate.
I agree that this is a very well designed website. It is spare, utilitarian, has a simple yet effective organization, and is very easy to navigate. But there is another feature of the site that is little mentioned and that is the range of news and the particular topics that Drudge brings together. From around the globe he keeps an eye on emerging diseases, minor conflicts, obscure environmental events, unidentified phenomena of all kinds. It is really amazing the range of news items that are included as a matter of course day in and day out. One of my favorites from a couple of years ago is ‘man catches fire during surgery’. Where does he get this stuff? I always imagined that he had a staff of dozens, yet I have read in a credible publication that Drudge employs but three people! Yes, he covers the big news, but he also reports on small items of a quirky nature that I find very informative and entertaining. This, I believe, has a lot to do with his popularity, in addition to ease of use, and a clean and clear design.
My primary complaint with Drudge: the auto-reloader. I will sometimes be perusing through links and BAM, refresh, forcing a scroll back and sometimes losing the link as it disappears into the archives. Eliminate that one element, and I would be just fine with the mid-90’s decrepit layout.
Chrome has an extension that stops Drudge from refreshing. Go to the Chrome Store and search for Drudge.
I love drudge. I check the site at least once daily to see what’s happening in the world.
This is the dumbest analysis ever written.
If Drudge Report is so popular due to its layout then why isn’t it in this list…
If the layout was “Superior” everyone would be copying them, but they aren’t. Those top 15 sites have modern layouts and get 10x the viewers.
We go to drudge for a complete experience.
The wit of Matt, the cheekiness of headline and the curiosity to discover the detail of that skin flash, the ability to get a ringside seat for hearing both sides of the argument, the confidence that one of the best curators and aggregator on planet has cooked a potpourri for you and the euphoria of staying at top of the news: what’s there to unlike?
Oh, the refresh thingy…I guess we can live with that.
I retract my wonderful review of the Drudge-report! Matt sold his page to the stinking left , and its has fallen into the lowest depths of the stinking socialist/democrat cesspool!