Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rating newspaper Web sites

On the heels of its recent report on how well U.S. newspapers are incorporating current thinking on usability and Web 2.0 features into their sites, The Bivings Report has ranked the top U.S. newspaper sites.

No real surprises in the top 3 — NY Times, Washington Post and USA Today — but I found some of the other choices interesting.

4. Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
"We like the non-newspaperish feeling that this homepage exudes. It’s significantly different from any other newspaper site. offers its users interactive features such as comments and blogs, has a great RSS system made available right on the homepage, and looks good while doing it."

Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel
Knoxville News Sentinel

"I’m not sure a newspaper website could look any better than this one. When we talk about de-cluttering sites and making them look “clean”, this is what we mean."

Some of the commonalities of the sites mentioned:

  • An easy-to-navigate site that isn't too cluttered.
  • Incorporation (and prominent display) of "Web 2.0" features that allow users to contribute content to the site — blogs, photos, comments, networking.
  • Database applications — voter's guides, crime maps, congressional vote databases, etc.
  • Strong presence of multimedia.
(Also, with the exception of the NYT and USA Today, each of the sites has a horizontal navbar at the top of each page rather than just one down the left side of the page.)

None of these elements are particularly eye-opening in and of themselves — they're all features we've been mentioning here for months, and most are features that non-newspaper sites have incorporated for years now — but they're good examples of the types of features sites are using to tell stories and invite reader participation in ways not possible with the printed product.

And they're ways to address some of the key challenges, listed in last month's Bivings Report study, facing newspaper Web sites:
  • Lengthening the amount of time users spend on newspaper Web sites.
  • Expanding the purpose behind newspaper Web site visits.
  • Converting page views and stickiness into revenue.
  • Improving advertiser incentives for purchasing online ads on newspaper Web sites.
(If these aren't already some of the explicit goals of, they should be.)

Which newspaper sites would you list among your top 10?

h/t to Charles Apple for the link.

1 comment:

Andria said...

Love the search and site feed buttons. Assuming you did that, Rich.
My favorite newspaper website:, in beta. I can subscribe to what my favorite journalists are reading. Like David Pogue.
The kid loves it too: says we should do it at and call it "Iknow." She says people like her (the boom echo generation) would pay $5 a month for that.