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Media Website Analysis – TPM 4 May 2010

Posted by elisemchisholm in Media.
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I’ve selected the four websites below for my genre analysis. The first three are extensions of traditional media outlets, and the last – Talking Points Memo (TPM) – originated online.

  • Forbes Blogs: community of business and financial blogs
  • WSJ: features on leaders in industry, sports, fashion, and art
  • NPR: news and entertainment content
  • TPM: analysis of politics and government

I’ve evaluated the aesthetics of six factors that I consider part of a positive online media experience: branding, typography, imagery, layout, interactivity, and search. Obviously, quality of content is also critically important, but I won’t tackle that topic here.

TPM

Branding:

  • All four websites feature bold logos in the upper left-hand corner of their home pages.
  • TPM doesn’t feature a tagline, nor does it define its acronym. As a new visitor to the website, I question whether this lack of identity is related to a lack of credibility. Both WSJ and the Forbes Blogs include taglines on their home pages.

Rank: #4

Typography:

  • TPM uses mostly sans-serif fonts for headlines and serif fonts for body copy. In some areas the type is very small, which makes it difficult to read. Like WSJ, the Forbes Blogs, and NPR, TPM has used dark type on a white background.

Rank: #3

Imagery:

  • TPM uses bold imagery above the fold, which captures my attention. The only criticism I have is that the most prominent image appears on the right-hand side of the page while a less prominent image appears on the left. Generally my eye is drawn to the upper left-hand corner – this is where I’ve been trained to search for the most important information in various forms of media. I noticed WSJ, NPR, and the Forbes Blogs all place their most prominent imagery on the left-hand side of the page.

Rank: #3

Layout:

  • I find TPM’s layout terribly cluttered. The varying column widths and lack of white space make it difficult to quickly scan content. Without category headers, I’m forced to scan all of the headlines. This isn’t how I prefer to consume news. When I pick up a hard copy newspaper, for example, I pull out the specific sections that interest me, rather than skimming over every page in search of compelling stories. Additionally, I think TPM has done a poor job with ad placement – display tiles are scattered all over the page.

Rank: #4

Interactivity:

  • TPM features video content; however the subtle calls to action are camouflaged by neighboring text in the same color and font style. Users would be better able to distinguish between text and special content if the latter were highlighted by bolder signals. TPM also provides access to RSS, Sharing, Commenting/News Tips, and Newsletters.

Rank: #4

Search:

  • TPM’s search is adequate, but does not show images or provide options for refinement. NPR and WSJ provide a better search experience, at least aesthetically speaking.

Rank: #3

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