AFR.com.au

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.

Published by Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs

3 replies on “AFR.com.au”

  1. They all have the same problem: take a look at the WSJ profitability, or at least the lack of it. Ask yourself why Murdoch could possibly bid almost trwice the market price. Then have a think about where this ends up. Thomson has sold all of its print products and converted to subscription digitial products, with no apparent web site model. Is it going to be long before the FT etc go that way?

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  2. I was a little surprised when I saw this site the other day. So many problems with the over use of Flash, including not being able to use the most basic functionality provided by your browser…such as tabbed windows, bookmarks and the “Back”, and “Forward” buttons.

    I like Flash as a marketing tool and it has really found a great niche as the ubiquitous player for video. But don’t use it to deliver your content, especially if you want other folks to pay for that content. It smacks of disdain.

    PS, the weather down south is looking…murky :-)

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