21 things to improve news sites

Posted on June 9, 2007 
Filed Under Journalism

Matthew Buckland, blogging at WAN South Africa, posted this list:

1.Focus on local content and news
2.Stress immediacy
3.User-generated content
4.User comments
5.User rankings and networking on your site
6.Embrace RSS
7.Use other web services to promote your site (eg: SecondLife, MySpace, Facebook)
8.Facilitate blogging of content for readers (and try not to get your pants sued off)
9.Homogenous branding
10.Complement the print edition (I guess so)
11.Increase the use of photography
12.Design internal/article pages as landing pages (huge traffic comes via deeplinks)
13.Give blogs to journalists
14.Link to external sources of information (link, link, link!!!)
15.Personalise for the readers
16.Manage relationships online
17.Tag clouds
18.Create a lite edition
19.Increase the content niches relevant to your community (well if you have the budget)
20.Create select audio and video casts
21.Use the web as a content laboratory

Matthew says 20 but I counted 21. Anywayz, increasingly I find news sites that try everything are looking pretty amateur and starting to dilute their brand. Just because we’ve now embraced Web 2.0 doesn’t mean that we abandon standards. Being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none can be distracting and frustrating for new and old audiences.

Audio slideshows that are too long, captions that suck, overproduced multimedia packages that are so humongous they aren’t worth waiting for (and strangely enough winning awards for), RSS that doesn’t work, video that freezes suddenly, the list is endless.

Surely, some consistency, product quality and testing must be adhered to before plonking the lot online. Or perhaps the supervising editors just don’t have the training to go in and fix things.


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