I've just posted a comment to Poynter's online-news list-serv about some news sites' strange section titles. Someone had asked whether online news staffs could benefit from attending usability conferences. My reply:
You bet your bippy online newspaper staffs can benefit from usability conferences. Steve Y. nailed it: Most newspaper sites' designs try to replicate a print product. And it's disgusting.
I can't tell you how many times I've happened upon a newspaper site for the first time and been mystified by its strange section titles. Take a look at some of these and see if you can guess what kind of content lurks behind them:
(I don't mean to pick on these sites in particular; they're just the first few I stumbled upon.)
"FYI"? Isn't *everything* on a newspaper site supposed to be FYI? "PageSix"? That's very relevant in a newspaper, but online, it's meaningless. I'm from Chicago, so I'm familiar with "Metromix" -- but who's to say an outsider will know what that is?
Etc, etc, etc.
Producers of these sites might make the argument that repeat users will eventually *learn* the meaning of these vague terms. But what's the percentage of Internet users who just happen upon your site, say via a search engine, at any given time? I recall hearing it was a relatively high number.
Anyway, yes, newspaper sites have a long way to go in terms of usability. I've only mentioned a single usability problem above, but there are way too many others.
Since posting, I've found a few more:
Thoughts? Seen any really wacky section titles? Post a comment.