Online newspapers need a lesson in usability


Where's usability guru Jakob Nielsen when you need him? CanWest's has been such an eyesore for so many years, if it weren't free I'm sure many wouldn't buy their online presentation of the news. I bet there are tons who love their "digital edition" (screenshot above) but I think it's a pain. You can see the obvious drop outs, it has only one zoom setting, and it is counter-intuitive when compared to the popular Acrobat format.

Many newspapers have worked hard to make their web versions much more reader-friendly. Oddly, CanWest's National Post is one of them. Same with the Globe and Mail, New York Times, etc.
Even more agitating about the CanWest online papers is their new integration of comments. The Globe has the sense to make them appear on a separate page, not below the article itself. It's bad enough that butthead "political columnists" (there's a job category that you need no qualifications for these days, Vaughn Palmer excepted) get prime placement in the local papers. The comments that follow these pieces are not much better than listening to drunks falling off a barstool.

Web 2.0, now about five years old, placed new emphasis on design and the user experience of online media. Why haven't newspaper publishers noticed?