Rick Garner’s top 10 list of tips for making TV websites relevant offers some excellent advice for news sites of all stripes to consider, not the least of which is his overall point that in order to effect the changes he recommends, TV stations must change their culture:
Most TV stations spend more time and resources on their onair product and save the scraps for online. This isn’t surprising since onair revenue is still king and what keeps the books in black. This has allowed local TV sales staffs to remain very green at selling their online inventory and being able to convince advertisers to buy their goods.
Why is this? Because the root of the problem hasn’t changed. Like a cancer, every TV station has a core that’s keeping them from success: the culture. Change a station’s culture and you can do wonders. Change a culture and a website can become relevant to the station personnel and their customers. Change a culture and a people can enjoy coming to work and making a difference.
#9 on Garner’s list follows a basic tenet of Web design and usability:
If a customer can weed through the design and advertisements to navigate the site (challenge #1) and there’s fresh and updating information (challenge #2), they may become a loyal customer. More often, customers are sampling other sources and sometimes do not return. Less is better. White space is good.
As an extension of that rule of thumb, Garner also advises against overloading sites with content:
Local news, national news, health news, education news, investigative news, sports, weather, traffic, games, contests, blah, blah, blah. … Focus on something that’s not being done and do it better than anyone else. If someone else comes along and does something better than you adapt or do something new. Adapting on the web is easy and costs virtually nothing. …
The majority of online customers will go to sources they’ve selected to push them content. For national news, that’s CNN or other major networks. Fact is, they’re already covering it, covering it faster, and more indepth. Posting AP copy on your site isn’t covering national news, it’s being a portal for them.