The White House revamped its website Friday, and its new look proves it’s possible for the Trump administration to make things even more opaque.
The White House website is where the public comes to watch live videos of the president and press briefings, as well as access media statements and position papers. But the new design makes all that difficult to do.
The previous iteration of the site wasn’t anything amazing, but it was at least navigable.
Website visitors quickly noticed that live videos were hard to find and topics Trump likes talking about, such as the economy, are on display, making it feel more like propaganda material than a public resource.
Overall, site visitors weren’t impressed.
The White House website has been redone and I can’t find schedule of events or videos anymore. :/
— Xseane (@xseane) December 15, 2017
What the hell happened to the Whitehouse website? Its totally fluff propaganda now…
— Amy Rose Teraberry (@ATeraberry) December 15, 2017
New White House website launched. Uses WordPress. Mixed feelings about that, obviously. But hey, that’s what happens when you democratise publishing. Cute version gag in the stylesheet though. pic.twitter.com/ovWalmGFyR
— Simon Dickson (@simond) December 15, 2017
It seems the new site is all about search, which keeps things out of view until they’re explicitly looked up, like climate. A few big issues top the page: “Economy,” “National Security,” “Budget,” “Immigration,” and “Healthcare,” but if you want anything on, say, climate change, you’ll have to search. Sure, those pointing to the redesign as another way for Trump to hide stuff may be verging a bit into conspiracy territory, but the Trump administration has a record of doing away with unwanted information.
Here’s what the White House homepage looked like just a day ago, left, and then today, right.
No matter the intention behind the layout change, it’s not easy to find information, despite the White House spinning the redesign as a good thing.
“The old site was a good temporary measure that allowed us to use what the previous administration had built, but it wasn’t where it needed to be in terms of providing people with content they can easily access,” a White House official told the Washington Examiner.
The previous site wasn’t an open book by any means, but the different drop down menus made it somewhat easier to navigate to a certain topic. Now everything is hidden.
As a journalist, the since-deleted “Briefing Room” menu is a huge loss. To find live coverage on the site now requires a confusing maze of clicks starting with the subtle top left-hand corner “hamburger” icon. Once there, click “About the White House” and on that landing page head to the bottom footer where a small font says “Live.”
At least the over-simplified site will be cheaper to maintain and secure. A White House official told the Washington Examiner that the new site will save roughly $3 million per year.
All that cost-cutting might sound good, but people are still asking, where’s the Spanish-language version of the site that Trump axed in January? Sorry, that page does not exist.