I have been charged with the task of creating ideas for an engaging online newspaper page. Since this is the case, I looked at three different local online papers –The Ottawa Herald, The Lawrence Journal World, and The Kansas City Star—in order to decide what I would and would not use.
First and foremost, I looked at The Ottawa Herald because it is the most local. I really didn’t like the setup that they provided on their website. It was very busy and lacked a lot of organization that would have made it easier to navigate. While I did like the concept of the scrolling picture at the top, I thought that perhaps it moved too quickly, and that adding another scrolling picture at the bottom was a bit too much. Furthermore, there were a lot of widgets, but not a lot of content aside from the scrolling pictures. It was frustrating that not all of the stories were available to people who were not subscribers and the colors were extremely dull.
Then, I moved up a notch and checked out The Lawrence Journal World. This news site, in my opinion was better than The Herald’s, but that didn’t prevent it from having issues all its own. I appreciated that the Journal World had a more box-y setup. Everything seemed in line rather than spread around the entire page, and the colors at least were a little brighter. All of the links on the front page to stories, while helpful, were a bit of sensory overload. I felt like it could have been toned down. Then there was the issue of the featured story. Really? You’re going to give your feature space away to nail art? Surely there are more important things in the world and even in Douglas County.
Finally, there was The Kansas City Star which I thought did the best job of all. It was very well organized, and although there was a lot going on, the portions that may have caused overload were at the very bottom. I also thought that it was good that the stories each had descriptions so that you didn’t have to select the entire story if you decided that it wasn’t something that you wanted to read. I appreciated how organized their tabs were and the fact that you could see the entire week’s forecast just by rolling over the weather tab.
If I were making an online edition of a paper, I would be sure to add big, colorful pictures that pertained to something relevant going on. I would make sure that my top story is interesting and that I had edited it well. Furthermore, I would definitely add a weather app like the one on the Star, and I would add other widgets as well. Some ideas I had were an instant score update for the school’s teams and a twitter feed widget. I would also make sure that there were links to twitter, facebook, and other social media from the site. I would make sure that tabs were simple and easy to navigate.