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Media Website Analysis – WSJ 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.

WSJ

Branding:

  • All four websites feature bold logos in the upper left-hand corner of their home pages.
  • WSJ also features a straightforward tagline on its home page: The Magazine from the Wall Street Journal. Although the website’s purpose and affiliation are obvious, I find the tagline helpful. The Forbes Blogs website also features a tagline while NPR and TPM do not.

Rank: #1

Typography:

  • I find WSJ’s serif font somewhat difficult to read, especially in body copy, which is gray.
  • The centered text in the middle column is particularly hard to read. I think this style choice hinders the user experience.

Rank: #4

Imagery:

  • WSJ has used a bold, interesting image on its home page with a text overlay. This definitely captures my attention. My only point of criticism is that is appears slightly top-heavy given its placement next to a prominent display ad.

Rank: #2

Layout:

  • I like WSJ’s three-column layout and top navigation – I find it easy to understand the hierarchy of information. I also appreciate the abundance of white space and the prominent yet unobtrusive ad placements. I’ve ranked NPR’s layout higher only because of its equal column widths (WSJ’s middle column is very slim).

Rank: #2

Interactivity:

  • WSJ provides relatively easy access to the following from its home page: RSS, Sharing, Commenting, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Blogs, Newsletters, Podcasts, Video, and Mobile. I prefer WSJ’s execution over the other three websites because it invites interaction at every turn, but in an unobtrusive way.

Rank: #1

Search:

  • WSJ’s search layout works well. Search terms are highlighted in yellow within content for easy scanning and time and date stamps are immediately visible. WSJ also shows images within its search results. I ranked NPR’s search layout higher because it shows multiple results above the fold while WSJ’s only shows the first result.

Rank: #2

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