Most-TV-Like Home Page. . .NYT?
It wasn’t Super Tuesday. It was Sad Sack Saturday, which is to say I was at the computer again after dark on a weekend. It happened to be the night Obama swept Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska (and the Virgin Islands, if that counts).
So I was poking around, avoiding my real work, looking for numbers–why were Washington’s GOP caucus results stuck at 37 percent? Will Huck pull it out and do a GOP sweep? I jumped from news site to news site looking for the most updated feeds.
And I noticed two things:
- If you’re using the web to find news info in real time, even the most successful news sites’ home pages aren’t particularly good at this sort of “broadcast” display. The Washington Post, USA Today, MSNBC, FoxNews, AOL, Yahoo, even CNN–none had a real-time graphic leaderboard on their home pages. They published headlines and photos and, inside, one or two clicks deep, maps and charts with fresh-ish data.
- The most successful example of a news homepage broadcasting real-time election results in graphic form was. . .The New York Times. The Times alone had an updated, easy-to-follow data graphic on its home page displaying the election results as they came in.
I was surprised that CNN and USA Today–both veteran deviners of audience desire–whiffed on this easy pitch. (Both had links on their home pages that led to real time data inside).
If I’m programming a news home page on election night–a Saturday evening! With little else happening!–what “use case” am I anticipating? People out browsing for election results. Sticking the real-time results map on the front is sort of a no-brainer.
It’s striking to see that the New York Times appears to understand that on the web, even significant news should, when appropriate, be presented visually, quickly and accessibly.
There is time and a place for reasoned analysis and fuller explanation. It’s called tomorrow’s newspaper.