ABCNews.com has a new look and a stronger emphasis on soliciting content from its readers.
The redesigned site, which was launched late yesterday, appears less clutterered than its predecessor [e.g. small icons now replace the headline tags “Video”, “Story” and “Vote”].
But more significantly, the new site distinguishes itself from its TV network competitors by having a front page that fits within a single screen view. That’s right, no vertical scrolling, even at resolutions as low as 1152 x 864. The page width is 1024 pixels, which is fast-becoming the standard for news sites [NBC is the only major American network still running an 800 pixel front page].
At first, I was impressed that ABCNews had achieved this, but all that content had to be accommodated somewhere, didn’t it? And, sure enough, there are two scroll boxes within the front page. I think there are two risks to this approach: readers may find multiple scroll-boxes more of a nuisance than scrolling the entire page, and scroll-bars within a page may not be as noticeable to the reader, leaving them to conclude that what they were looking for isn’t available at ABCNews.
As for the user-generated content, well, everybody’s doing it, aren’t they? Here’s ABCNews.com senior producer Michael Clemente:
The new site is designed to harness the power of community. And by community we mean “citizen reporters,” our viewers and readers who help us report the news by contributing, commenting and telling us what they know. The redesigned ABCNEWS.com makes it much easier for our Internet users to add to the facts, ask questions of newsmakers and make their voices heard.
Users will also find it much easier to submit to us video from cell phones and their home video cameras — video that we may choose to broadcast on our site or on one of our television news programs.
Oh really? I just scanned through the site and couldn’t find anywhere to upload multimedia [just a text-submission link called “Contribute”]. And there are no links from Clemente’s announcement of the site changes to illustrate the new features.