Site review: jamaica-gleaner.com

Written by Adrian Holovaty on September 2, 2002

A few observations on jamaica-gleaner.com, the Web site of the Jamaica Gleaner in Kingston, Jamaica:

  • The site automatically rewrites the root URL to the current issue's index page. (For example, when I went to jamaica-gleaner.com, the URL automatically changed to jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20020902/.) I have a hunch they're doing this so they don't have to maintain a separate main index page; their issue index pages (such as "/gleaner/20020902") serve as archive pages, and they've basically programmed it so that a request for the home page goes to the latest index page in the archive. This isn't a good thing to do because it confuses users in several ways -- one, it will probably cause some users to think they've mistyped the URL and are in the wrong place, and two, it makes bookmarking the site's home page excessively difficult because when you bookmark the "home page" you're actually just bookmarking that day's permanent index page.
  • On the home page, there's a "More Stories" section under "Lead Stories". It presents a bulleted list of five headlines. Problem is, these headlines are not clickable. To access one of those stories, a user must click "More Stories", find the story on that page, and click on it there. This page would be much more usable (and less frustrating) if those headlines were just linked to their articles in the first place.
  • I bet not even a tenth of people who visit this site notice the date in the upper right corner. It's a classic example of banner blindness: Content near and above banner ads tends to be ignored.
  • And speaking of classic examples of common usability problems, this site is yet another example of The Case of the Mysterious Date. (See my review of indian-express.com for more.) Because that date in the upper-right corner is so far removed from the content, it's anybody's guess whether it's the last-update date of the current page or just a server-generated "current date" stamp. The solution: Put the date within the content well in order to give users a visual clue that the date and content are related -- and include the words "Last updated" for good measure.
  • Having separate navigational categories for Lead Stories and News is confusing.
  • It's frustrating not being able to click the site's logo to get to the home page. This is a standard Web site convention by now; users expect it.
  • This news story illustrates a common problem in separating content from presentation. Check out that page's title. If your browser's title bar is long enough to show it, you'll see italics tags (<i>, </i>) around part of the headline. Clearly, the site's content-management system puts the headline into the page's title, verbatim. That results in sloppy titles like this one whenever producers insert HTML formatting into the headline.
  • Finally, the graphic/table on this page is so bad it's downright hilarious. The source line is the icing on the cake.

Comments

Posted by Rob on September 5, 2002, at 12:10 p.m.:

FYI: The link to the Gleaner in the first line of this post goes nowhere.

Posted by Adrian on September 5, 2002, at 1:32 p.m.:

Thank you, sir. Fixed.

Posted by anonymous on January 30, 2005, at 9:40 a.m.:

Still not fixed. That's how I was able to get this very valuable piece of info and save myself the aded stress in trying to open the CURRENT page for today 30th Jan only to keep seeing the date of Feb 28 popping up. I kept changing my bookmark and wondering if I had added the wrong link and not realizing that in fact the current day's news had not actually been updated YET. Please work on correcting it as this is the first thing I do on my pc every morning...READ THE GLEANER so I'll be really happy when you get it working right. Thanks anyway for the most times when it is updated.

Posted by anonymous on January 30, 2005, at 9:50 a.m.:

Thank you for the very informative info on why the Jamaica gleaner web site doesn't open to the current page . Seems the problem is still not fixed since today's page still opens at 28Jan even after three days old. Well It sure helped my wasting so much time to try to change and rearrange my browser entry thinking I was entering it wrong. Thank you again for your review and comment section and it seems the OBSERVER is doing a much better job in getting their site work correctly.

Posted by jennifer on June 25, 2006, at 1:13 a.m.:

It is a good site to learn what's up in jamaica it helped me alot with my projet.

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