Someone (at Crikey.com) has finally written about the usability travesty that is AFR.com.au. The article is pretty entertaining, but the points about the usability of what should be the wsj of this region are right on:
The article starts with a bang…
“The AFR’s new multi-million dollar online push is in serious trouble, with the big end of town blowing up over the hopeless software platform and Fairfax’s draconian policy of cracking down on re-use of articles.”
..and goes on (and on) to give the case against the site from the point of view of media aggregators and spin doctors. (They don’t like it).
Let’s face it – the site breaks some pretty basic usability rules:
“They.. constructed the site so that the stories couldn’t be cut and pasted into an email and forwarded on”
“The AFR’s bells-and-whistles website doesn’t allow clicks through from Blackberries”
“Some subscribers can’t even type in the search terms without trying three or four times.”
“Flash is dreadfully slow for some users”
The result is a good demonstration of how a poor online strategy can kill your print reputation and business – and this was a strategy designed, I guess, to help print sales.
One major financial institution is apparently seriously considering banning AFR.com subscriptions from its staff because of the inability to use it properly.
One senior comms person for a major company said their execs now considered The Australian “the newspaper of record for financial markets” because they simply couldn’t get anything from the Fin.
There are also noises in the market about journalists leaving the AFR as their writing is not getting out there, with the traffic to the site remaining trivial.
Meanwhile, the WSJ ticks along with its demonstration of how to make a great financial site of record.