New Chicago Tribune Website Design 7/19/07

Wow that is different and somehow very anti-climactic. This is what comes out of a 2 year development process? I hope there are some benefits on the back end that help with efficiency that maybe we can’t see. I do see it’s chocked full of javascript (Omniture) , CSS which is fairly modern and Ajax-like tabbed widgets which are not that pretty, but very functional and modern. What I was thirsting for was a great interface design and more relevance. Here are my opinions:


Technology update for the site architecture and format. It’s good to see that they finally have come to the conculsion that the rest of us have, that the newspaper site doesn’t have to look like a print newspaper anymore. It’s a big vote for blogs to have a blog listed above the fold on the homepage. Classifieds got a hit by being demoted to a non-branded, non contrasting colored tabbed box further down on the righthand side of the page than they used to. They did gain the placement of that same box on the story pages though. Cross promotion of the different services (revenue generating stuff) the site has is a key to getting them better exposure. The most emailed, most viewed stories is a good cross promotion tactic that serves up something interesting to go to next when the reader is bored after 30 seconds and wants to consume more information quickly. Breaking news might be another type of link to add there.  The left Nav has had a makeover also, and it looks pretty straighforward, they know people who read newspapers online like to see everything listed out like that.


What’s with the black lines outlining everything? That’s so 2002. We don’t need borders, everything just flows these days. It’s also still not using SEO to the fullest. Name the story pages with permanent URLS and put the keywords in the URLS. It will help traffic immensley!  A big EWWWW on the text (Google) ads in the middle of the story. That’s so spammy, I can’t believe they consider themselves journalism and not spam now. No one clicks on them unless they’re relevant, no matter where you put them. (unless they’re elderly or don’t know what text ads are, and who really wants those clicks anyway? They will just hit the back button on their browser) And what happened to Quango? No commenting on articles is not quite where people want things. I think people really want to share their ideas and responses on news and this would be good to have in the future. Blogging and Reporting are the same thing, (just quicker turnaround) and commenting on stories should be allowed. In fact sending in your story ideas or things to investigate would also be interesting. You’d get a pulse of the community effect there. (text or email us your cameraphone shots of breaking news and events type thing) How else do you know what people want to hear about? Do you just assume they want what you think is important? That isn’t as cut and dry as you may think.  The Jobs page had a mini makeover and he RSS is good, the iFrames are bad. Especially when you don’t have the SEO structure to hold it up. I hope they don’t loose their high rank in organic listings as a result. Liekwise I think that they should allow keyword links within stories to other stories or classifieds that match that keyoword for top searched keywords or news items and personalities. Maybe link the name of a celebrity to a results page with all the stories the paper has written on them in the past. It’s all about cross promotion, and keeping readers entertained as they look for more things to consume and read. You don’t ever want to come to an informational dead end. 

In general I know they wanted to increase the revenue of the online side of the business by providing more advertising opportunities (inventory) that was higher quality (higher rates) and by increasing page views (more impressions for ad inventory). ((Who doesn’t?)) I think that the free ad supported news and website idea is preferable over the paid subscription model, but where the line is between enough and too much is blurry. I think they did ok with the balance though, and I hope they have some benefits to the quickness and efficiency that the site runs and updates. Luckily they are so well known and regarded that they are refered and linked to constantly and they should continue to get a huge amount of traffic no matter what the site looks like.


One thought on “New Chicago Tribune Website Design 7/19/07

  1. Pingback: Newspapers Grow an Online Audience « The Protagonist

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