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New York Times Landing Pages: All the Irrelevance That Fits the Pixels

Timesdetail

I’ve often used my hometown paper, The New York Times, to exemplify the disconnect between digital publisher content strategy, the goals of visitors and the resultant impact on advertising. The root of this disconnect is the way search, social media and the landing experience fracture content hierarchies. Behavior has changed and so too must the content experience.

Let’s face it, taking the 300 year old idea of a newspaper and essentially throwing it on the web while likely the only option 13 years ago is not optimal one for anyone today. So why has the optimization needle moved so little in the right direction?

Huge amounts of traffic to NYT.com bypass the homepage. With the growth of search, the opening of the Times content archive and the rise of Social Media, success for the Times, its advertisers and most importantly its visitors, relies on the quality of the landing experience. The current NYT landing experience is quite simply dreadful.

It was a link from Social Media that brought me to this page. Keep in mind I'm at 1440x900 so ideally I'm getting the most of this page above the fold.

NTY_Clutter.001  

After now having this awful NYT landing experience a number of times from Social Media and Search links I felt compelled to figure out exactly how irrelevant is the content above the fold on the typical New York Times landing page.

New York Times Landing Page Irrelevance

Space:

  • 622,740 pixels above fold (970x642)
  • 145,500 pixels given to relevant content (485x300)
  • Only 23% of the page above the fold dedicated to relevant content   

NTY_Clutter.002  

Words:

  • 235 words (approx) on the page
  • 60 of those words are the relevant content
  • Only 25% of the words on the page (above the fold) dedicated to relevant content 

Information

  • 18 Distinct content areas (color coded below) above the fold (including the piece of content that is relevant to me). Many of these are navigation. Many have multiple links. Really, do we really need two search query fields?
  • Only 5.5% of the content areas on the page (above the fold) dedicated to relevant content 

NTY_Clutter.003  

No "Next Click" in the Archive

I mentioned the Times’ has opened their historical archive. This is an amazing contribution to the web (and the correction of another NYT digital content strategy failure, TimesSelect). These archive landing pages while offering less clutter also represent another missed opportunity.

See this first New York Times mention of the Internet. It is a fascinating historical read but it is also a dead-end. Visitors landing on this page as with most of the archive have goals that are discovery. Yet, there are no links to the subsequent 15 years of Internet related content! This is analogous to Amazon’s product pages not having “add to cart” buttons. Even if this is exactly the content the visitor was looking for most of these visitors will likely hit the back button (to Google). This is simply inexcusable strategically and poor business financially.

The Times needs to do better. Its future depends on it. Spending less time selling ads on the front page and more time into creating better digital experiences offers their best hope for survival.

Related Posts:

Optimizing Content Pages

Social Media Landing Pages

Landing Page Utopia: 7 Lessons from Google

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Comments

Jon,
Great analysis, and love the Internet article. Take a look at one of my best newspaper customers (NYDailyNews) page for twitter: http://tinyurl.com/9byt9l

Here you find related links within article, related articles and topics above fold. Better.

Scott
Inform.com

Scott-

Thanks for pointing out the Daily News. This is very impressive.They are doing a great job with their content. Quite the contrast to the NYT page. They must be a happy customer. :)

Jon

Love the post! I worked closely with a Canadian equivalent of NYT and I absolutely agree with your post. Unfortunately things are very very slow to change in the "online print" world since many of the influent people involved with the newspaper have the last word on the online version as well. This situation slows down the progress of the online version because the print people have two priorities; making sure their print content gets on the internet and never letting the user forget they are reading a newspaper equivalent...

This fear of becoming obsolete is the crutch of "online print" operations. Change is good AND necessary!

Thanks for the post!

Jon,

Great analysis. However, did you try eating your own dog food? Apply the same analysis to this page and doesn't seem like even 23% of the page above the fold is dedicated to the relevant content.

Mukesh

Hi - you may want to check out our Readability bookmarklet. It gets rid of all that stuff in one click and leaves you with the stuff you want to read.

http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/

-Rich

You do realize the irony here? You're own blog post has only about 20% relevant content above the fold.

Sorry CKB, You are wrong. There is no irony.

1) If you clicked a link to get to this story it is there with an obvious headline front and center in the top 1/3 of the page
2) I have no ads
3) This is a blog, not a newspaper
4) All content here is focused on a single topic. digital marketing - so there is topical relevance with every link
5) The header is relevant as it is the title/branding of the blog and the images are all relevant in some way to the story

CKB- your anonymous post is busted dude!

IP Owner lookup

OrgName: The New York Times
OrgID: NYT-1
Address: 229 West 43rd Street
City: New York
StateProv: NY
PostalCode: 10036
Country: US

NetRange: 170.149.0.0 - 170.149.255.255
CIDR: 170.149.0.0/16
NetName: NYTCO
NetHandle: NET-170-149-0-0-1
Parent: NET-170-0-0-0-0
NetType: Direct Assignment
NameServer: NS1T.NYTIMES.COM

The NYT is a lot cleaner looking than your blog. And while you may not have ads for other companies on your blog, your margins are filled with ads for your "personal brand."

stphn - With the amount of full-time paid staff dedicated to working on the Times digital design and dev I would sure hope their web site is better looking that my typepad blog!

My issues are with the content experience.

The NYT got it right (almost) on their iphone app, downloadable for free from iTunes. They could just start that layout on the Internet for a greatly improved landing experience.

All video about New York search here http://rapid4me.com/?q=new+york

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