Treesaver leads the way

The next generation of webpage design, like Star Trek, wants to go where no webpage has gone before.

Treesaver, a revolutionary new webpage design startup, would allow media consumers to view news on any type of device; desktop, laptop, iPhone or iPad.

“The web has not been a great narrative experience,” said Roger Black, a legendary figure in news design and one of the project founders.

“The goal is to meet the reader on whatever device they read on,” said Black, who expects to unveil the first news implementation of Treesaver Friday on the Center for Public Integrity website.

Treesaver would apply page design to a “wider experience” of media to enhance the reader experience, he said.

The program uses HTML, which allows users to formulate pages or different devices, said Filipe Fortes, a coder for the project. Treesaver uses algorithms to automatically accommodate big or small screens, moving from a single-column format on a smartphone to a multi-column format on a tablet.

Treesaver runs like a webpage as opposed to an application, Fortes said. There is nothing to download, which means users can do the same things with this program as you can with with a regular webpage. This includes opening multiple tabs for multiple stories, just like you could do in a normal web browser.

“There are no surprises here,” Fortes said. “Everything looks natural.”

There are no pop-ups or flashing ads to distract readers, he added.

Treesaver uses paging as opposed to scrolling to simulate a more magazine or newspaper experience, Black said. Paging, like the Flipboard app on an iPad, offers all new content with every turn of the page without any of the ambiguity or frustrations of scrolling.

And you never have to worry about losing your spot in an article with paging, Black said.

“In some ways, [Treesaver] almost too literally mimics a magazine experience,” said Mary Peskin, an associate director of American Press Institute in Reston, Va., and an attendee at the session. “But it is the first step that allows people to get what they need in the most usable and the most pleasant user experiences across platforms.”

Users don’t see the code behind the webpage of the iPhone or iPad apps, said Peskin, a former design director for The New York Times regional division for 22 years. They see what they get out of that experience, she added.

The user experience on the iPad, iPhone or web screens, Peskin said, are all very different experiences. Users want different kinds of information in different ways or places. Designers like Black understand that user experience is going to be the key to success, she added.

Treesaver has not done anything as of yet with inserting comment sections on pages, Black said. But there is no reason why comments, constant updates or even live streams can’t be added in later versions, Black said.

Treesaver could even support flash ads.

“Anything you can do with HTML, you can do here,” Black said.

New startups and initiatives have expressed the most interest, Black said. But he envisions Treesaver as being innovated enough to put behind a pay wall and make a subscription service.

“Society has changed,” Black said.

And so have the ways that users are accessing their information. Treesaver, Black believes, is the next generation of webpage design and access.