February 6, 2009|
The Bivings Group took another look at The Use of the Internet by America’s Largest Newspapers , and compiled a list of 2008’s top ten Newspaper sites. Newspapers selected were among the 100 largest in the U.S., and in addition to being judged by their abundance of web features, were graded on design and easy usability. Check out last year’s list to see who’s staying strong Online.
1. The New York Times
The New York Times site manages to combine classic style with managing a frequent onslaught of new web features, and dropping the site’s pricey “Times Select” has helped to expand the Times’ already massive Online readership. Recent additions include “Times Extra,” which aggregates headlines from other news outlets and adds them to each section.
2. The Washington Post
Buried in The Washington Post’s crowded homepage are some of the best efforts at direct user interactivity to be found among newspaper websites. The Post’s rudimentary but innovative Live Online feature allows users to interact in real-time with Post writers and special guests, and users can customize their homepage to feature either Washington-based or national news.
3. The Wall Street Journal
The recent Wall Street Journal website’s redesign has widened the publication’s audience and its content, but its web efforts are still aimed at hard-hitting financial news. Registered-user features allow readers to track their individual investments, personalize their news feeds and sign up for breaking news financial alerts, but some articles still require payment.
4. The Florida Times-Union
This under 150,000-circulation features an unconventional, slick design with a big focus on user participation and social networking. The homepage features viral video and the unusual strategy of featuring staff blogs. Users who register can start their own blogs and are guided by WikiJax, a right-hand navigation that explains the many user features step-by-step.
5. The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer gets props for experimenting with “e-Inquirer,” a web-based edition of the print paper that will come into your e-mail box each morning with along with links to Online content, top news summaries and the option to hear audio versions of articles. “E-Inquirer” is available for a two-week trial period followed by a $2.25/week subscription rate. It’ll be interesting how this web-print combination fares among readers.
6. USA Today
This social-networking portal puts less emphasis on news than it does user-interaction, but registered-user communication with writers and the ability to comment and review articles help add to the cluttered design of the site. Once registered, users can start their own blogs, upload photos and connect with other readers.
7. The St. Paul Pioneer Press
The Twin Cities’ busy homepage is laden with web features including embedded video by Brightcove and access to podcasts and blog posts that are normally buried further into a site’s navigation. Short blurbs on the site tie it to the newspaper feel and help users sift through articles to find what they’re interested in.
8. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The sleek and straightforward design of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution homepage manages to keep dozens of topics and headlines flowing through it without cluttering the screen. Registering with The AJC site doesn’t get you much aside from access to e-mail newsletters and breaking news alerts, although a sophisticated mobile site allows easy searching for news, entertainment and sports content.
9. The Arizona Republic
Phoenix’s largest paper keeps the priority on its residents with town events and local news up front and center. Community news is broken down by county, and reader’s choice features “best of polls” help draw local experts into the site’s clean design and simple navigation.
10. The Columbus Dispatch
In a refreshing shift from the conventional newspaper site, The Columbus Dispatch’s site looks nothing like a newspaper. The homepage uses unconventional image templates and illustrations to give it a dramatic feel. PDF article options in the “Special Sections” area give users printing choices they may not have seen with other sites.