- Published: Wednesday, 22 April 2009 21:12
- Written by Jonathan Walker
As a rule, mostwebsites replicate the print product in the way that they present content to readers.
The top stories or features are picked out by theeditor and given the greatest prominence, with the remainder placed on the page according to their category.
For example, the Times website has the biggest stories of the moment at the top, followed by "more " (the best general news stories), then business news, then sport, then comment, etc.
This echoes the print format, in which the top story or splash goes on the front, with other stories presented in an order chosen by the editor, often divided into categories. Of course, print products have to do this.
But many successful websites outside newspapers take a different approach, customising their pages for readers and presenting them with content they are likely to be interested in.
For example, YouTube offers me videos based, as far as I can tell, on what I am subscribed to and what I have watched in the past.
Here is part of the Amazon.co.uk page is it appears to me:
It seems to me that newspapers could learn from this approach. Using cookies or, even better, by persuading people to register on our sites, we could use the stories they have looked at before, those they have rated highly and those they have commented on or e-mailed to friends to take a guess at what kind of stuff they are interested in.
If it's sport, then give them thestories at the top of the page rather than at the bottom, for example.
And when readers do register, we could also simply let them tell us what they want through a simple interface, in the same way that Yahoo lets people personalise their , for example. I wouldn't depend entirely on this though, as what people say they are interested in may not be exactly the same as what they actually spend their time looking at.
I imagine we'd still want to push the top stories of the day in a prominent position (or maybe not?). But there's no reason newspaper websites should be static, and if we don't take the initiative in giving readers what they want then someone else will. Indeed, they already are.