22 February 2007

Usability found wanting on web-only news sites [The Guardian]

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“Innovation [in the news industry] is mainly coming from local papers (better able to harness user generated content) and by a new wave of web-only news sites that have replaced news editors and subeditors with the readers themselves, who vote to move stories up to the top of the page or consign them to oblivion,” writes Victor Keegan in The Guardian.

“You can try some of the leading ones such as Digg, NewsVine, Tailrank, NowPublic, Reddit and Technorati. […]

I have been very impressed with the pace and quality of innovation of these sites except for one vital ingredient: usability. If you have to go through several stages of evaluation after each story there will be even less time to read the newspaper itself. Few of these sites – yet – are easy on the eye and until they look less like nerdy lists, they may find it difficult to make the jump to mass-market acceptability. […]

The question is whether these new approaches will sweep all before them or, as the noises get more confusing on the web, people will migrate back to “trusted sources” such as the BBC and the Guardian (which is engaged in an each-way bet, expanding on the web while strengthening the paper as a trusted source). What will happen?”

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