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I just loaded up a link at jpost.com talking about how the Rami Levy supermarket chain predicts that by 2012 20% of food purchases in Israel will be online. However, when I loaded the link, it took me a minute to actually find the content. Can you see the problem here? To make it a little bit clearer, I have added highlights - Ads are in yellow, In-site navigation is in green, and the content is in blue. The content occupies a tiny strip down the center of the page (maybe 30-40% of the total width of the page). This is surrounded on all sides several layers:
  1. The first layer has a set of Ads (Yellow - all advertising the same thing) and goes around the entire perimeter, switching vertical alignment to fit the ad into a narrow width going up each side (not to mention the completely irrelevant ad for investing in Brazilian agriculture - what is that about?). These are loud and completely distract the user's attention.
  2. The next layer is a mixture of ads (Yellow) and navigation links (Blue). The ads here are either irrelevant AdSense style ads, or ads from the Jerusalem Post advertising your ability to advertise on jpost.com (I wonder what the ROI is on that).
  3. The worst part though are the strips of internal navigation links going up and down either side of the page. They all relate to different subcontent areas of the site (things other than news) and each one has a very similar looking graphics. The overall affect is that the graphics make it hard to tell the difference between the different sections, and I am completely turned off from clicking here.
Though these ads may add a bit of revenue in the short-term, in the long term the poor usability and design of this page will probably lead to lower traffic, shorter visits by users (in terms of both number of pages visited and overall time spent on the site) and fewer repeat visitors. It also reflects rather poorly on the professionalism of the site (and I would think that conveying an air of professionalism would be quite important in the online news-delivery market space). Fixing these problems would require:
  1. Rethinking the ad strategy for the site:
    • Do you really need those vertically aligned ads surrounding the whole page? What is that Brazil ad doing all the way out there? Are those AdSense style ads actually getting clicks? The ads should not distract users from the main purpose of the site. Doing so will not get you clicks, they will only end up annoying users.
  2. Smarter Navigation:
    • The navigation links that I would find the most useful (links to other news sections) are the least pronounced and emphasized links on the whole page. Make these easier to use.
    • Where are the tags? Links to similar articles? Links to most popular articles and most emailed articles? If I saw these, I might spend more time on your site?
    • Those ads going up and down each side of the content are totally useless. How about using a well designed expanding menu that can include links to all of these areas without taking up so much room and without being such an eyesore? And if you really have to see all of those links at once, do something about the graphics.
  3. Standards-Based Design:
    • Looking at the source for the site, it is a big mess. Definitely not built using web standards. Lots of table-based design. I imagine that this is very hard to maintain and does not play nicely on some or all mobile platforms. And that is not even starting with accessibility.
    • I have a fast Internet connection and I presumably located very close to the servers. Fully loading the page took about 25 seconds, and includes 37 HTML Get/Post requests, 20 separate CSS files, 104 different JS files, 119 different images - a total of around 290 separate requests. Total downloaded off of a fresh load: 2.5MB (imaging this on a slower connection). Reloading the page still took 240 requests and 19 seconds. This is just not acceptable. It is really bad.
(To anyone at jpost.com who is reading this - I have nothing personal against you guys, and I do enjoy reading some of your content. But your site design is so poor, getting to the content is just too hard and too much of a strain on my eyes).

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