Jeff Jarvis has the inside scoop on the USA Today Re-Design. Apparently, this was a 50-person five month project at Gannett. Here are Jeff’s highlights of what I would describe as the social / “web 2.0″ components of this new design:
On this page, youâ€™ll see the On Deadline blog front-and-center. It has been â€œenormously successful,â€ Kinsey said, for USA Today. I do like how papers have discovered that the incredibly light and easy content management tool called a blog enables them to publish faster and easier. On the lower left, they â€” like other papers â€” are now promoting lots of their own blogs.
Here they expose the most popular stories as determined by readership, commenting, emailing, and recommendation â€” note the Diggification. (I look forward to most-linked as well.) In their effort to link out to other sources, even competitors, see this example of on-page external RSS feeds, powered by Newsgator.
Here they begin to use tags (these are machine-generated; given the biorhythm of news, I wonder whether a folksonomy can take hold in time). Weâ€™ll be seeing much more of that on news site, Iâ€™ll bet, as they move away from strict (USAToday-like) taxonomy to an all-roads-lead-to-Rome structure to give you many paths to relevant news, via links, tags, and search.
And one of the cooler features is a personal page that is populated with, among other things, the comments you leave around the site. It is an effort to enable a social network on the site built around content, theirs and ours. (I said that I hope they will make this portable; Iâ€™d like to put up on my blog a feed of the comments I leave on a news site with reviews I leave at Amazon and so on: my distributed identity.)
There are two big take aways reviewing this for me:
- If the goal for the popular items was “diggification”, they did a terrible job. There is no transparency into how may comments, email, etc… Also, as a user you have no ability to vote (eg digg this / bury this) on the articles. Obviously this may not have been the goal - just reacting to what I saw / read on Jeff’s bog
- The auto-generated tag stuff looks really interesting. I wonder if they’ll include these tags in the RSS feeds for their content? However, it is interesting again they don’t really encourage their users to participate and add tags. (Unless this functionality wasn’t obvious from the designs.)