I stumbled upon an article at the Sacramento Bee site the other day, and I was struck with how beautiful, simple, and functional the design is (here’s an article page). They use mostly CSS and text for the interface, so it loads fast, and the dhtml toolbar offers quick visual customization and common tasks for readers. It’s a nice adaptation of recent technologies to make a site both better looking and more useful for users. It’s just plain smart design.
It’s a far cry from the old days of using technology for the sake of technology on sites (much like Flash is still used on many sites today). I hate to say it, but I like the Sacramento Bee site more than the International Herald Tribune (although I think John Weir is a genius, some of the technology/interface elements distract from reading the articles at IHT, like the sliding top bar).