March 05, 2007
USA Today Redesign
USA Today.com's new redesign is getting a lot of buzz. Mostly positive buzz. A social network? An online community? Check out their new list of features. TechCrunch gives it a bravo and summarizes an overview of what's new and valuable. Forrester's Josh Bernoff gives advice to them and their competitors (below):
"Don't look back. USA Today cannot go back to its old design and ditch what must have been a huge redesign effort. The ability for readers to comment is crucial and will be a big differentiator. Plus it will help the newspaper to better understand what people really want and like. So ride it out.
But don't stand pat. Clearly people loved some elements of the newspaper's old online design, specifically the ability to see a bunch of news stories and stock quotes in an easy to navigate format. So bring this back, maybe in a "quicknav" button or feature. Your readers are talking to you -- can you listen? This is true test of whether USA Today has made the social transformation, or is it just lip service?
Bring the readers into the print paper. The true sign of whether this change is working will be when Gannett changes coverage in its print paper "because you asked for it." For example, top comments on yesterday's stories, or a list of the week's top recommended stories.
Why can't the Journal and the Times do this? The Wall St. Journal and the New York Times "know" that people read their papers for the authority of their editorial voice. The tempation will be to look at USA Today and say "this is the desperate move of a second-tier player," plus to feel some schadenfreude at the negative feedback for their competitor.
But community comments and feedback would add to the Journal and the Times' relevance. The Journal used to have links to the stories most blogged about, but they seem to be gone now. The Times lets you create a permalink to their story in your blog. In essence they are saying "You can blog about our authoritative coverage," but not "We will listen to you."
This will prove shortsighted, but it's always the top dogs that move last. When they do move, they should learn from USA Today and make sure they don't lose what attracted readers to them in the first place -- not just editorial authority, but site design features."
Below taken from an earlier Jeff Jarvis blog post, who apparently got an early preview.
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