After years of being dreadful, Scotland’s Daily Record has had a much-needed redesign.
My first impression is that the Record now has most of the features a half-decent news site needs but in the wrong places.
Essentially, the Record team have missed the secret truth: only the article page matters. If you have cool ideas, put them there.
Their homepage is a great improvement. But the homepage is relatively unimportant.
In terms of traffic, the article pages are where the action is. And I have to say they’ve ticked some impressive boxes there: rating articles; using tags (AKA themes or topics); lists of related articles; and links to Digg and Delicious at the end of articles (the average Record user will never bother with these but they are a clever way of boosting traffic and search engine ranking).
They’ve missed some key tricks, though. The big one is having comments on each story. Instead, they’ve gone for a very patchy approach with this only being offered on a few. (Unbelievably there is no opportunity to comment on Jim Traynor’s football column. Given that he hosts a BBC phone-in, that’s an odd decision) Now, this may be a trial phase but this feature is an industry standard and a very effective way of multiplying traffic and tying in readers – if used extensively.
Instead, the Record are pushing forums (or fora, if we’re being pedantic). The ones I checked made the Marie Celeste look crowded.
Also, their use of tags is cursory. To maximise the number of people reading each article, stories should have multiple tags, not one or two.
Another flaw: their use of puffs to promote other content through the site is poor. Also, the stories themselves are very flat, with no use of bold or itals to lift them. There appear to be few pictures or videos to lift the text.
Finally, they have some brilliant features like lists of “most read” or “most emailed” stories but have hidden them very well in section pages. These should be prominent items on the article page.
(On a positive note: thumbs up to my pal John McKie for name-checking me in his column on the Georgia v Scotland debacle:
My Hibee mate Stewart texted me midway through: “If you dress like Jambos, you play like Jambos.”
Fame at last.)