Published on
April 18, 2002

AnaLine
Analysis of Online Media


USA
TODAY


View:

Home Page

The Wall Street
Journal ONLINE

USA Today

The New York Times
on The Web

 


 

Within the actual site, the main sections are all about the same length of the home page, and the color assigned to it on the home page is carried over. For example, the Technology section is assigned the color orange. On the technology page, orange is on the headings and a lighter shade of orange is also implemented. This gives each page a unified theme while setting it apart from other topics. This layout may take more time for slower modems to view, but part of that problem is resolved in that the document itself is not that large.

Under each title of today's stories is a synopsis. The condensed story, larger font and spacing lend itself to easy skimming. The stories themselves are more concise than other news sites', and are therefore not nearly as long. This is largely because the story does not go into back ground information, because breaking up the story are links to earlier stories as well as latest news. These links get the nod because they are largely introduced as audio or video.

The slide show has its merits as well as faults. It shows you when it was last updated, including date and time and uses color photos. It tells you how many slides there are, but not how big each file is. It has forward and back buttons, but that forces you to move in their order. The most out-of-order you can move is from the last slide back to the first slide. In addition, every click of the forward or backward button has the sound effect of a shutter lens on a camera, which, if you're looking at more than five pictures, gets irritating. There's a sentence explaining the context of the picture, but no information from the people in the picture or even the photographer.

Even though the stories are shorter and easier to read through, USATODAY.com still puts the whole article on one page, despite logical breaks for new pages. I have been disappointed time and time again that chunking, the dissemination of small pieces of information, is not pervading the online news world.

Overall, USATODAY.com is the best news site by far. It combines easy navigation with visual effects to enhance the resource and like most news sites the page refreshes at least every hour. Though they are relatively new to the game compared with other national papers, perhaps that is the very reason why USA Today is more willing to try new arenas and different formats.