For a long time web designers decided how a website should look. Now, it seems, the journalists are striking back. The Age has this week unveiled a new-look website that’s given some thought to how readers like to get their news rather than how designers want to make themselves look clever.

While putting designers in charge of website design might, at face value, seem like a good idea, it had some odd effects. For instance, the most important real estate on the site – at the top, on the left, where the western eyeball heads to first – was devoted to the site engineering, the stuff the designer is responsible for. Hardly riveting reading for punters who want a quick news fix.

An insider who knows more about this than me says the problem began at point of sale, when the designer showed off the site to the client in ideal conditions. But when readers logged in, this led to strange little notes at the bottom of web pages informing them what sort of computer (and monitor) they should be running, and with what programs, at what settings, to read the damn website.

Taking the lead from a handful of trailblazing blogs, The Age has now broken the mould for online newspapers with the realisation that people read newspapers for the words and the pictures, not the menus (which can be moved to the right or under the masthead without causing much harm).

A second, but increasingly important, consideration is that more and more people are viewing web pages on handheld devices. Once their smart-phone has translated the website, readers will get most annoyed if every page they view involves scrolling down 30 lines of irrelevant menu options before they finally reach the words and pictures they logged on for.

The new site design also spills features over more than one page. Check out Michelle Grattan’s piece yesterday on the terror laws. This, presumably, will maximise advertising potential and make it easier to charge per page viewing. After Fairfax’s disastrous $70 million F2 experiment, revenue is what this is all about.