A guide to navigating The Post’s new Web site
So what do readers think are the biggest problems in The Post’s newly redesigned Web site, and what is being done about them?
The ombudsman’s e-mails of the past 10 days, admittedly an unscientific survey, do track closely with a Post internal review of some 1,400 e-mails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, the main address to register complaints and suggestions.
The frustrations rank roughly in this order: Site navigation, the new comment system, Today’s Paper and font size.
Let’s do the short answers first. According to Raju Narisetti, managing editor for online, the Web team is considering boosting the size of the new Arial typeface, but no decision has yet been made.
The new reader-comment system has been troublesome. Comments take a long time to load, and readers were confused by the designations “Top Comments” and “All Comments.” According to Narisetti, the comment system is being worked on, and changes are in the works. Already the confusing “Like/Unlike” designation that readers could use to register approval of a comment has been changed to a simple “Recommend.”
As for “Today’s Paper” — a place on the Web site where the daily newspaper can be read online exactly as looks in print — Narisetti said it has been “buggy,” and the technology team is trying to fix it.
But most of the e-mail I get is from readers having trouble finding what they want.
This is a typical comment, from Richard Hartman, a reader in Arlington: “When I first saw the new Web design, I thought, ‘Oh, well, I guess I’ll get used to it.’ But now I’ve grown to hate it. Everything seems to be hidden so it is almost impossible to find. Today I looked for an online discussion from earlier this week. After several tries I found a link to ‘Weekly Schedule,’ so I clicked on it. It only showed today’s chats, not the week’s. Then I tried to find a link to a column from yesterday. It took maybe a dozen clicks after several false starts and searches that led nowhere . . . What is going on here? Are you just trying to increase the number of page views to impress advertisers? Keep this up and you’ll have no page views.”
Some changes have been made to navigation on the site and more are coming.
Remember this term: “The right rail.” The right rail is the long column of boxes, lists and navigation buttons that sits on the right side of all the Web site’s pages, most prominently on the home page. Normally a large advertisement sits atop the right rail — you won’t miss that — and smaller ads sit at the bottom. But in between are useful buttons and navigation boxes.
When the site debuted, the advertising and the navigation boxes all were bordered in gray so that they all looked like ads. Now the navigation boxes are bordered in white.
Readers complained that the daily TV and radio listings for sports events were hard to find. They can be found now in the right rail of the Sports landing page, usually about two boxes down from the top. Click there, and you’ll get the day’s games.
The list of daily live chats now has a home in the right rail of the main home page, as does a navigation box labeled “See all Washington Post Blogs.” Click there, and you’ll get a full list of all Post bloggers. Very handy.
Harder to find, though, are the archives for live chats, bloggers and columnists, a feature that many readers say they use. In each case, a link usually exists, it’s just hard to spot and is inconsistently placed.
For opinion columnists, open your favorite writer’s most recent column and just below his or her mini biography, find “Archive”; click on the arrow next to it. A long list of recent columns will appear on the new page; this is true for Carolyn Hax, too.
For bloggers, such as Chris Cillizza and Ezra Klein, go to their blog page and scroll down to the very bottom of their blog posts. There is a link called “full archives” that will take you to an index of their posts by subject and chronology. Very useful but hard to find.
For archives of live chats, go to the main home page, scroll about halfway down the left side to “Featured Discussions.” There you’ll see “In case you missed it: Recent chats.” Click there and a chronological list of all chats comes up.
Despite all the complaints, it appears that Web readership is up. March, during which The Post adopted a new “content management system” and launched a newly designed Web site, was washingtonpost.com’s best month ever in the number of unique visitors. It was its fourth-best month for number of visits, and it ranks in the top 10 for number of page views.
Patrick B. Pexton can be reached at 202-334-7582 or at email@example.com. For daily updates, read the omblog at www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/omblog.