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« In your own sweet way | Main | Show me the money »

Nov 28, 2012

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Roch,

Who the hell greenlighted that? Did Saul or Gauger even take it for a test drive? There is so much so wrong there but I'm biting my tongue because:

1. Somebody is in way over their head, probably finding that good web design is a little harder than tweeting and facebooking and it would just be too cruel to add to their woes. I've been there. I know the panic, but this is not his/her/their fault. Their bosses should have never told them to/let them, pull the trigger. They are the ones who deserve the shame.

2. The N&R is hastening its demise and this town needs a viable digital hub, which I have to get back to finishing.

Andrew Brod

It loads faster. That's a big improvement.

It's easier to get to the blogs.

Aesthetics? Meh. I have no objection yet, and maybe the research shows that readers don't need their newspaper websites to be visually interesting.

It doesn't work well in IE8 (e.g. the drop-down menus are quite bad), but maybe that's too old a version for web designers to worry about any more. It probably sucks in IE6 too. The site looks much better in Chrome and Firefox, and for all I know, it's nice in IE9.

Roch,

What do you think, Ed?

MojoNixon

It looks like a small-town paper's website. Not much difference between the N&R now and the High Point Enterprise or the Asheboro Courier-Tribune.

But hey, the N&R probably has the circulation of a small-town paper, so it's perfectly appropriate.

sean coon

there are out-of-the-box themes in drupal or wordpress that look and/or work better as a newspaper experience. it's an improvement , but at this pace, they won't get it right until 2060.

Roch

IE8, Andrew? Firm statistics are hard to come by and vary by geography and demographics, but IE8 probably accounts for somewhere between 12% and 25% of browser usage in this market. Too large to ignore, although Google just has. You are probably missing some nice enhancements on modern sites if you are still using IE8.

David Wharton

The old site was too crowded and busy; this one has more white space, but too much of it, in odd places.

The scrolling slide show is distracting, and if you try to navigate to a story by clicking the highlighted box on the left side of the scroller, nothing happens, even though the pointy hand appears when you hover over it. You have to click the picture or the text link below it.

In the menu at the bottom of the page, the "contact us" link is not active, as are a number of other links down there. The "subscribe" link is broken. And there's no link or information about who to call if your paper-paper doesn't get delivered (which happens to me regularly). The "about us" link leads to a pop-up page that looks like it came from about 1997.

This site isn't ready for roll-out.

Ed Cone

Agree with all the above. Mojo is right, it looks like a small-town paper. Fits poorly on my screen in various browsers. Headline type not bold enough. Looks wan and generic.

And the content selection is poor.

Not what I was hoping for.

Lex

At least as of a few minutes ago, on mobile you were just getting the desktop home page on a mobile screen. Transition problem, or did they really not optimize for mobile? (Rhetorical question for now, given all the other obvious bugs that need fixing.)

I know from someone in the building that front end and back end were supposed to be integrated with this changeover in a way they weren't before, so that stories could be written once and properly formatted for print, web and archives if that was your purpose. (Most stories for the web need to be rewritten/cut, but that's beside the point here.) Based on the public evidence so far, that integration was oversold.

It looks to me -- and I mean that literally; I'm talking about appearance and could be wrong in fact -- as if they rolled the site out without any kind of usability test first. Who does that? I mean, besides me in 1994?

triadwatch

if you click on the blog section like the other sections , on my computer you can hardly see where you need to click because the background is the front page of web site

George Hartzman

it's almost as if some may feel like they need to resubscribe to the print edition. what is going to happen to the historical comments?

James

Mostly agree with most of what's been said so far. I'd grade it C+.

Typography for masthead is generic and uninspired, but tolerable.

The all caps serif font in top level navigaiton is also uninspired ... and not tolerable. Change it.

The site is too active and busy, both visually and in terms of animation. Someone above said that news sites don't need a lot of sizzle. I'd go a step farther ... a lot of sizzle gets in the way.

The standing footer with nav tabs and weather has potential. Will be interesting to see how it evolves.

Speed and page loading is a definite improvement over previous site.

A C+ may not seem all that appealing, but given that the previous incarnation was a solid F, it's a nice improvement.

I'll go through the account registering / log in process later. Base on past experience and the downward spiral of content, I'm not sure it will be worth the trouble.

Nice try.

Lex

I just went on the online chat and asked Editor Jeff Gauger to what extent the site had undergone usability testing before launch. I was particularly interested because site design/redesign and UX are among the things I'm studying in my grad program this semester. He said in so many words that they did no formal usability testing before launch.

Further affiant sayeth not.

David Wharton

It doesn't look like anyone bothered to check whether the links lead where they're supposed to. I clicked "Columnists" on the Opinion drop down, and it took me to a list of news stories (about the NHL and about Zynga). When I click the "read more" link on the NHL story, it takes me to a crime story about an embezzling fire chief.

This is so bad, it makes me embarrassed to be a citizen of Greensboro.

sean coon

greensboro's fine; the paper sux.

Hugh

Do not like.

Sue

IMO, the site is an improvement but there are issues. Lex's comment about usability is well-taken. There are dead links, I don't know why they chose so many different formats for landing pages for each section (some of which are unpopulated). But really, the first think I checked was the search - that was my biggest complaint on the previous site. It simply doesn't work. I searched for my last name (which has been in the paper once or twice in the past year) and I got a variety of 'nothing' and 'junk' results pages. Very disappointing. It also looks like they couldn't import the blogs, which is a huge loss. Registration worked fine for me this morning.

A few web-dev opinions:
1. Chrome couldn't find the site unless I added http://www (which I'm not used to doing.)
2. I prefer words on the page. Would like more & fewer boxes.
3. For my taste, way too many "blocks" or widgets. Plain text is good.
4. IMO, the page is too tall. Really, do we need all obits listed at the bottom?
5. Obviously, footer links (and some others) go to old pages; it appears they haven't populated new pages for things like "about" and I agree, where's the link for "my paper didn't arrive today?"
6. The slideshow is fine; it's standard. Clicking a left link simply changes the slide in focus. Click the pic for the story. Typical slideshow.
7. "Continue Reading" - really? In the middle of stories?
8. The galleries are a huge improvement.
9. The ads at the top are not. Nuke 'em. Put them down the side & fill the space.
10. Obits page has a menu-behind-content problem. (See "too many blocks or tools"). Fixable.
11. With the search, the most disappointing page for me was the "news" home. Shoot, put some content there & not simply headlines. Slideshows are not required features on all pages.
12. I'd have beta tested this with a focus group. Too many eyes too glued to the layout miss things.

All in all, I'm glad they did the redesign. This site is an improvement. But if they paid for a new search, they should get their money back.

Jim M

Anyone know if the work was done in-house or by a web design/development company?

Interesting comment in the page source:

"Working on photo logic, and it will mess up some formatting on the pages until I am finished."

Obviously it's not ready for prime time...

Brian

Frankly, they should be embarrassed. Who unveils a site that is still in progress? As someone above said, there is so much wrong, it is hard to know where to begin. Amateur, very amateur.

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