Posted March 5, 2007 5:37 pm by with 8 comments

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It’s been two days since USA TODAY redesigned its site, adding serious social components. The new social features include the ability to make comments on news stories, “recommend” stories or comments, review movies and music, discuss in forums, contribute photos and more.

USATODAY says that the redesign impacts more than just the look and feel of their online presence:

While we’ve refined the design, we’ve also expanded the journalistic mission: Our ambition is to help readers quickly and easily make sense of the world around them by giving them a wider view of the news of the day and connecting them with other readers who can contribute to their understanding of events.

In addition to the visual and social changes, USATODAY has “cleaned up the layout, simplified the navigation, improved ‘search’, and made it easier to find related stories.”

How is the public taking it?

For the most part, not well. The comments on the announcement of the new design (239 as I’m writing) are overwhelmingly negative. Although some people, like Michael Arrington, like it (and some think they didn’t go far enough), for the most part USATODAY readers dislike the change.

The reasons run from the stodgy “I hate Web 2.0, I hate social media, I hate blogs and now I hate you” category to the more practical “Loads too slow/confusing layout” side. Somewhere in the middle is the “I don’t care what everyone else has to say; I just want to hear the news” faction. Aaron Wall and Lisa Barone aren’t big fans. The discussion continues on Techmeme, but what do you think?

  • rcjordan

    I read USAToday 3 days a week!

    …OK, just the front page.

    …OK, through the glass, it’s in the rack outside the door of a favorite restaurant.

    …OK, I just glimpse the headlines.

    Warren Buffet sez:
    (And for newspapers that have pinned their revenue hopes on their Web sites, Buffett had a sobering prediction:) “. . . the economic potential of a newspaper Internet site — given the many alternative sources of information and entertainment that are free and only a click away — is at best a small fraction of that existing in the past for a print newspaper facing no competition.”

  • Wow, I thought people were exaggerating about how slow the site loads, but even on a high speed connection, it took way too long to load!

  • I knew something looked different. They seem to have thrown some usability out the window. Why is it that newspapers don’t want to look like a newspaper? But at least I can comment when they post blatant lies.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Actually, some commenters are complaining that their negative comments are being removed. Obviously not very many of the now 258 mostly negative comments on their announcement have been removed, but even some of those have been alleged to be censored.

    It would be nice to be able to contradict patently false news stories, though.

  • JayW

    258 out of how many readers? Not even a blip on the charts.

    I like the UI better but the pages are way way to fat. . . They must have locked the usability geeks in the closet. . .

  • Jordan McCollum

    Well, for some perspective, the page now has 292 comments, over 90% of which are negative, and 127 “recommends.”

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