My “personal jury” is still out on TheWest’s new website design. It’s a website aimed at big screens and broadband connections – this is a screenshot of the site above the fold on my MacBook Air.
The main picture/story is huge, and rotates through four stories, the rest of the screen is dedicated to a video and there is little else to see. The site runs the risk of losing me instantly if the 2 or 3 stories I see instantly do not appeal.
Moreover the large photo and video in particular are not bandwidth friendly – clocking in at 1.2 Mb, and loading another 80kb every few seconds thereafter. Luckily the likes of iinet deliver ADSL2 out here, but it’s still a risky maneuver.
So they have positioned themselves more as a tabloid, though don’t expect semi naked woman British tabloid tradition. It’s going to be an interesting few months tracking how TheWest performs against Fairfax’s new site WAToday, which launched at about the same time as TheWest’s redesign.
Despite some of their advertisers, it’s great to see them push the envelope of out definition of a newspaper derived website.
One thing I really like, and it is pretty basic, stems from this advertisement on the homepage:
It leads to this page, which gives you six ways to comment on or alert the West reporters to a story:
Simple, clear and well advertised. A “Contact Us” box is the only thing missing – it would be great if it were on the same page, and if there were an annonymiser option where IP addresses were discarded.