Poynter.org, the site of the Poynter Institute (a journalism think-tank and training facility) and home of the E-Media Tidbits and Romenesko's MediaNews weblogs, redesigned Friday -- and was met with a flood of discontent. More than 70 readers posted negative remarks on the new MediaNews comment system, and a number of Tidbits readers did the same.
A few features of the redesign...
Poor URL scheme. Smart, friendly URLs such as "poynter.org/medianews" and "poynter.org/tidbits" have been eschewed for anonymous, stale addresses such as "poynter.org/column.asp?id=45". Two things immediately wrong with this scheme:
- They're ASP-dependent. If Poynter decides to change its back-end system to, say, PHP, every URL will change, resulting in hundreds of broken links. (Granted, this can be remedied with URL-rewriting methods such as mod_rewrite, but that's a messy hack.)
- They're unfriendly and unhelpful. What tells you more, poynter.org/column.asp?id=45 or poynter.org/medianews? I find it particularly difficult to navigate the site now, because I was accustomed to using URLs as UI.
QuickLinks. Almost every page has a unique QuickLink code -- e.g., "A9035". "You can use these codes however you like," the site explains. "Jot them down as a quick reference; e-mail them to colleagues; or use them as a fast way to link to Poynter Online content." It's an interesting idea, but I doubt people will use it, because it offers no clear advantage over bookmarking a page or e-mailing the full URL. (The URLs aren't so long that they'd wrap across lines in an e-mail program.)
Chunky code. Spotted on MediaNews:
<font face="Trebuchet MS"><font size=2><font size=3><a class="" href="mailto:email@example.com">
I did not make that up.
There's no acceptable reason, in the year 2002, for a site to be using
font tags. Not to mention redundant, nested, font tags.
Unusable comment system. Reading comments is an incredible hassle. Try it. From a comments list page, you've got to click into a comment separately, then click back to the list page, then click into another comment. Not to mention you're supposed to click the overly subtle binoculars graphic, not the commenter's name.