While doing some new research today, I discovered a few websites with some interesting features.

si.gifSports Illustrated’s website has a function that I’ve recently seen popping up on the Web on rare news sites, such as the Washington Post. In the set of tools provided for each article, the site gives you the option to “facebook” an article. This enables you to add the article link directly to your facebook profile and share it with all of your friends. I think this is a great idea. Personally, I have not begun using external bookmarking/news sites such as del.icio.us and Digg simply because I think they’re a little inconvenient. To me, a useful Web feature is something that combines new content with my already-existing online routine. Using a social bookmarking site would require me to set up a whole new account and would add another website to the list of URLs I check every day. This ability to “facebook” an article, however, lets me send new content to a site I already am in the habit of checking. Maybe this is just laziness on my part, but sometimes I feel like these news aggregator sites (and other social networking sites, as well) add more work to my Web routine. This “facebooking” option gets rid of that extra step.

This appears to be one of many new Facebook widgets and applications recently added to the social networking site (GigaOm has a post about it here). These widgets are extremely diverse in nature, and range from InTunes, which allows you to share playlists and see what music your friends are listening to, to the FBook Birthday Exporter, which allows you to export all your friends birthdays to a CSV file. There are 6 pages of random kinds of plugins, some of which are very creative: creating friend maps, rating people’s profile pictures, trading books, finding great local restaurants, tracking stuff you’ve lent out to friends, and coordinating vacations with friends can now all be done through Facebook. Check them all out here.

blogosphersnap.gif Another feature I discovered is on the US News & World Report site. If you recall our newspaper study, I mentioned in the research that the Washington Post has a “Who’s Blogging?” function, which works with Technorati to feature popular bloggers on the Post site that have linked to a Post article in a blog entry. US News & World Report has a similar function, the “Blogosphere Snapshot”. This type of cooperation with bloggers is a great way to encourage discussion on a news site without actually allowing people to comment on articles. It may also add to a news site’s traffic by encouraging bloggers to link to a site with a “Blogging Snapshot” rather than to a website that does not offer this feature.

Anyway, this is nothing ground-breaking, but I’ve seen so many awful newspaper sites lately that I got excited when I found a couple of publications that seem to be doing their Web strategies correctly.