I am privileged to be a member of the “Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media, & Web Design” tribe in Triberr and I asked a question of the Tribe. That question was:
“If you were asked to design a news site for a niche industry publisher what must have features/design ideas would you include and why?”
Below are the answers I received, to me this is great advice and I will be listening closely as I am looking to create a new site for a niche publisher and some of these words of wisdom will be included:
Twitter - http://twitter.com/deepfootprints
Website - http://deepfootprints.co.uk/
I would first consider what content they can create themselves e.g. a must is an editors daily overview – i love it when a great writer summarises the daily/weekly news for an industry into an easily consumable bitesize chunk.
Apart from that will they be writing in-house and if so how frequently?
I would then create a list of all of the major news sources for the industry that you can aggregate news from – maybe even go to the length of just selecting certain writers from these publications so that you are curating a more unique site.
I would also think about social media sources – perhaps set up a Twitter list that pulls in the tweets from the 50 most influential people in that industry.
I would also give readers/businesses in the industry the opportunity to submit news to you so that you can grab new stories fast.
I hope that these ideas help.
Twitter - http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera
Website - http://www.websearchsocial.com
As a reader of any news site, I always look for a subscription option first. I’m partial to RSS but many people prefer email, so I would include both options clearly on the site. A privacy statement and policy is a must since news entities tend to be “corporate” and there might be an inclination for people to think their information is being shared with advertisers. If it is, that should be made clear.
News sites can also become cluttered, so I would design it with an eye toward organization and well-defined content areas. “On paper” a site always looks great - there are a couple of content boxes for feature stories, a couple more for video and everything lays out perfectly. In real life, you can end up with excerpts of all different lengths, photos of different sizes, and a completely uneven layout.
Rather than just design on paper, I would include a real-life prototype of a home page and content page with real content in it so the designer and company can see the practical application of the design and plan effectively.
As a reader again, I like to find content easily and be able to browse through content to discover new things. That means including an organizational hierarchy such as categories and subcategories, featured stories, archives, content by date and by author, and content by type (video, infographic, full length articles, etc).
Social sharing should be prominent on every article, as well as ways to connect with the organization on other channels. As a reader, it’s frustrating to find a great site and then have to hunt around to figure out if that site has a Twitter feed.
As a niche site, it might be nice to give more prominence to the authors, perhaps by way of a special bio page, links to their social properties and even periodic “featured authors” so the audience can get to know and follow their favorites.
Comments, of course – especially as a niche site I imagine people are vested in the topic so it should be as community-focused as possible. And along those lines, include a way for readers to become contributors and perhaps even get recognition as a featured contributor. That can help draw interest and generate loyalty.
Since there will probably be ads, I can say from a reader’s experience that a couple of things drive me nuts: articles split into multiple pages when only one is necessary, presumably for the ad impressions; ads that “wake up” the minute I open a page, by way of sound or video; and ads that look like content or take up more space on the page than the content.
Finally, in terms of content, a “wrapup” feature would be a nice addition. It could aggregate all the top headlines of the day, week or month with a short “must know” snippet for people who are browsers and who want to stay informed without reading all the details.
Twitter - http://twitter.com/WEBPRESENTER
Website - http://www.mywebpresenters.com
Looking at the responses from Joel and Carol I think that there is one additional thing that could really give them something stand out. How about giving readers the ability to filter the news that they see by filtering out certain categories of news or authors that they do not like or news from certain sites that they do not like or perhaps even filtering out news that is older than a certain number of days.
When you use Google you can filter search results by certain criteria so it would be good if sites with industry news gave users this ability too.
For example if the site covers B2B marketing and you are online interested in search marketing then you could filter out the news on postal direct marketing or social.
Filtering has it’s downsides in that you do not know what you are missing but if users could just flick a switch to change their filters then they could occasionally check to see that they are still happy with their filters.
I cannot think of any news sites that really allow users to have control in this way so it may be a good differentiator.
Twitter - http://twitter.com/jaysbaron
Website - http://www.madtowndesigns.com
I don’t look at design in terms of what of what features / design. It really comes down to what the goals are of the website. Are we trying to build awareness of a great cause or do we need to have as many newsletter sign ups as possible? Everyone’s business goals and objectives are different.
I would first define what my goals are and try to be as specific as possible. It’s much better to say I want 100 newsletter sign ups in six months verses I want lots of traffic.
Great design is all about solving business problems not looking pretty. Once you know your goals your design can help enhance the elements you need use contrast to bring attention to important calls to action and overall do more for a niche website than anything else.
When thinking features I would only consider what that core audience needs. It can be easy to get caught up in having tons of features to try to appeal to everyone, but your best off focusing in on your core target market 1-2 user groups and making a perfect website for them instead of trying to appeal to everyone.
If you would like to add to the advice please do so below, all help is much appreciated