When is an award-winning website still a really bad website? When it’s reviewed by John Temple, who gives the Arizona Daily Star site a resounding “FAIL” based on 18 criteria.
The Arizona Daily Star (azstarnet.com) had been recognized by the EPpy awards as the “best news Web site with fewer than 1 million unique monthly visitors.” But while that may make for good promotional copy, it doesn’t mean that readers — you know, the ones who are supposedly using and interacting with the site — are being offered a useful product.
Temple administers a test created by Mark Potts to determine how well azstarnet.com is serving the typical user. Again and again, from listings of the best restaurants to comprehensive coverage of local personalities, the site fails to measure up.
Its failure on the first three criteria, including “Without using search, find continuing, in-context coverage of a long-running local story” — underscores the usefulness of what Martin Langeveld (and I, as well) has been arguing for — wikifying the newsroom:
Wouldn’t it make sense to build all of the back story into a wiki on the topic, and to make it the responsibility of the reporter to update the wiki whenever something new happens? And once the wiki is created, why not make it available online, linked in the printed and online versions of the story, so a reader can get a summary of all the background the paper possesses, not just whatever the reporter considers relevant to the current story.
At the end of a separate post about attracting an online news audience, Langeveld emphasizes that communication, not design for its own sake, should be foremost on the mind of those who run news websites:
It’s not about how sexy-looking your site is. It’s not about having the absolute latest display technology. It’s about how you engage readers with conversations and with ways of interacting with news staffers and with each other.