Improving Boston.com: Suggestions for Fixing Newspaper Web sites


I’m a subscriber to the Boston Globe and have been most of my adult life. I’m a newspaper junkie – and I still need the feel of a newspaper in my hands every morning with coffee. Obviously, I’m in the minority these days as newspaper circulations plummet. In 2008, the three-year trend for the top 25 newspapers was a 7.4 percent decline in readers. So newspapers are putting a lot of hope in their web sites.

Boston.com series

So back to the Boston Globe. Despite my love for it, I rarely visit its online property: Boston.com.

Boston.com has more than one million regular visitors, but I find it impossible to read. It’s a crowded jumble of news, features and advertising that feels like a jigsaw puzzle that has been dumped out on the floor. The site lacks personality. It’s clunky and unimaginative. There doesn’t seem to be an underlying strategy directing it. It wants to be everything to everyone – so it ends up being nothing to nobody.

For the next few days, I’ll explore five ways I believe Boston.com can vastly improve its online experience. I want to be clear that I’m not picking on Boston.com. I think the Globe and its properties are among the best news gathering outlets in the country. I’ve worked with and know many of the Globe reporters and editors from my time as a reporter and from my years as a PR consultant. I respect the difficult jobs they do each and every day.

This series of posts focuses on Boston.com specifically, but most newspaper web sites could benefit from implementing these ideas.

Here are the five suggested fixes that I’ll focus on:

Cleaning up the clutter

• Enabling customization

• Building a site that encourages browsing

• Executing a real blogging strategy

• Engaging with readers – really.

HighTalk encourages feedback and would love to debate and discuss any of the suggestions we offer. Each suggestion will be given its own post.

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