24/7 TV news websites: Part 15 - Lateral and related navigation II
As part of my look at the websites of 8 24/7 TV news channels, I've been reviewing the types of related and lateral navigation they use. Yesterday I looked at Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN and Euronews. Today it is the turn of the other 4 sites in my survey - France 24, ITN, Russia Today and Sky News.
I haven't done an exhaustive survey of all the variations and permutations available on each site. Instead, I took a screengrab of the top story on each site on the afternoon of January 14th, and have used those as the basis for my 'on the spot' comparison.
On the day I was looking at these news stories, the BBC and CNN were obsessing about events ten years ago in Paris. Meanwhile, the Paris-based news service I was reviewing, France 24, was firmly looking at current news, with a lead story about the attempted child kidnapping case in Chad. The main story panel includes a link to an in-depth special report on the topic
Within the story, France 24 also includes a panel of related story links, and of related video content.
The story pages on France 24 also include one other element that allows a user to navigate directly between stories without returning to an 'index' page. To the right of the main story panel is a list of 'News briefs'. When clicked these expand to give a short summary, and can be clicked again to go through to the full story coverage.
In the right-hand column of the page, a tag cloud also leads users to popular topics of the time. These links go through to a search results page, rather than an individual story.
ITN's site carries very little in the way of related navigation on a story page. The only story specific feature are related 'Keywords' or tags, which appear underneath the headline. These take the user to an aggregation page on that topic, which gathers together all of the recent stories tagged this way.
Users are also able to navigate directly to the top stories on the site at the time, in a large scrollable section that appears above the body of the story.
Russia Today includes three pieces of related content on a story page. On the right-hand side of the template users are invited to watch the video associated with a story. A second panel, 'Also on RT' links directly to related stories on the same topic, and a 'Read in news' panel links to top stories of the moment.
Sky News have their content in quite a narrow space, with the width of their 'related' links almost equal to the width of the main copy. On the day I looked at the sites, Sky were also leading with Paul Burrell, and the story page featured a large area devoted to the related video content.
The page also included links to an in-depth section about Diana, and more related multimedia content on the story. Finally, in the right-hand column, there are links to the top stories in the relevant geographical section of the site - in this case, the UK.
At the foot of each story there is a little bit more lateral navigation. Alongside a link to email the story to a friend, and a link to the parent category of the story, is a link to go directly to the 'Next related article'.
As I've stated, this is more of a snapshot than a comprehensive survey of the lateral navigation features available on each site at the story level. I've put my findings into a feature comparison chart, which, even if not definitive, at a glance gives an idea of which sites put the most effort into driving users directly between stories.
|Top stories on site|
|Top stories in the same geographic region|
|Related Audio and Video|
|Related Picture Galleries|
|Related stories by topic|
|Most popular stories on site|
|Most emailed stories on site|
|Personalised story recommendations|
|Popular topic tags|
|Related topic tags|
|Next in section|
In the next, and final, part of this series, I'll be specifically looking at how the sites direct people to the most read, most popular and most topical content.