Website critique – a traditional news site vs. a blog

September 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

latimes.com is well designed but flawed when it comes to linking out.

Usability is the most important aspect on any website, especially a newspaper site because of the amount of information on it.

The LA Times is an example of a news site that works well. The navigation bar is by far one of the best and usable on the web. Unlike Newsday.com, which is like taking a walk on a high wire.

The LA Times has everything someone would look for. Below the navigation bar is a section, in the news, which links to popular stories like the Tea Party and subjects like the NFL. It provides an easy navigation to stuff most people coming to the site want to read about.

To keep readers interest, the LA Times has a related stories section on the right side of a page. This is helpful, but it doesn’t pop out at you like the one on the New York Times site does, and can be missed by someone who is not paying full attention.

Social media is also represented on the site. On a single story page there are about five ways to share or like the story on Facebook.

You can also retweet the story, digg it, comment on any story and do many other things to it as well.

But linking seems to be a problem. The blogs hosted by the LA Times link out but the news stories don’t. This is not surprising. The New York Times doesn’t do this either, but it would be a good idea to link to other sites and show the readers where the information came from.

Overall, the site is well done. The front page pops, it’s a bit too long but not many people will scroll down far enough for it to matter. And those that do obviously want to read about more then the people that glance at the featured story. Overall the design is calming and not to striking, while catching the viewers attention in the right places.

Moving on to the blog…

techcrunch.com has a simplistic blog design, is run off of WordPress and makes good use of social media.

TechCrunch.com is a niche blog site that focuses primarily on technology and gadgets.

It has a basic blog design. The posts appear in descending order and there are photos that make the blog pop and attract the eye.

One thing the site does really well is the placement of a carousel on the top of the front page, something the LATimes.com does not have. This design features the top stories in a visual format that someone just glancing at the site will pick up on and possibly click on. There are also multiple stories instead of the single featured story on the LA Times

The navigation bar on the top is useful.  The categories are more defined then the LA Times, which may or may not be good, depending on how you look at it.

Social media is alive and well here as well. You can email the story, like it on facebook, tweet, buzz and digg it.

One thing that stood out to me was the very top navigation bar links to other variations of the site, CrunchGear, MobileCrunch and TechCrunchIT. These blogs are associated with TechCrunch and provide a more defined coverage for people interested in mobile devices or gadgets.

Linking is not a problem here. It is a blog so links are expected. However, they should really link out in a separate window. Taking people away from the site is not the best of ideas.

Overall the site is put together well, a good design, maintained and updated regularly and it’s written in more of a casual format then stories on the LA Times.

-Frank Posillico

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