Navigating newspapers: Part 2 - Mapping primary navigation
Yesterday I started a series of posts looking at the primary and secondary navigation links across 9 UK newspaper website. Between them they had come up with just over 450 different ways of labeling newspaper content when published online. The figures and 'word cloud' that I published yesterday concentrated very much on the differences between the navigation schemes. Today I want to look a lot more at some of the similarities between them.
In print, British newspapers all follow pretty much the same navigation scheme - news at the front, sport at the back, TV guide in the middle. If you are reading from front to back, then UK news comes before international coverage, 'softer' content aimed at women is towards the middle, and city and finance coverage is two-thirds of the way through before the classifieds section. Well, something like that anyway.
On the web, however, news organisations had a blank canvas to invent new ways to navigate the newspaper, but they've pretty much all stuck to the same blueprint. It is a fairly obvious move, meaning that users online can navigate their way around content based on their familiarity with the type of sections they get in the printed editions.
Popular newspaper primary navigation categories
To show how the different primary navigation schemes on 9 UK newspapers map together I've classified each link into a generic description of the topic. This table shows the most popular ones grouped together, illustrating seven of the most popular topics, and how the individual papers label them.
|News / |
|Sport||Our Comment||Fun / |
|News||Sport||Opinion||Fun & |
|Life & |
|News||Sport||Comment||Life & |
|News||Sport||Opinion||Life & |
|News||Sport||Fun & |
|News||Sport||Comment||Life & |
'Showbiz' and 'Culture'
Interesting things happen around the topics of TV, entertainment, arts, culture, showbiz and celebrity. Here newspapers provide plenty of coverage, but the exact categorisation is hard to pin down. For the Express 'TV Guide' and 'Entertainment' are two separate entities, whilst the Mirror has 'TV & Entertainment'. 'Arts and Entertainment' in The Independent and The Times map to 'Culture' in The Guardian - but is that the same as the Mail's 'TV & Showbiz'? And where does 'Celebrity' fit as a category?
This table maps together these similarly themed links across the 9 newspapers.
|TV & Showbiz|
|TV & Entertainment||Celebs|
|Arts & Entertainment|
|Arts & Ents|
Money, finance and business
There is a another confusing lack of consistency around the labeling of content about business and personal finance. 5 newspapers use 'Money' as a top level navigation link, including the Daily Express, Daily Mail and Independent. Those three use this label to cover personal finance and business stories. The Guardian and The Times however, have both 'Money' and 'Business' as primary categories, splitting the topic in two. The Telegraph opts for the alternative catch-all phrase 'Finance'. The Mirror, Star and Sun do not have a primary navigation label covering financial stories.
Other common navigational labels
The following table shows some of the other common categories of label - those which appear in the primary navigation of at least three papers, and which I haven't mentioned yet.
|Home | Front Page||Motoring||MyEXPRESS||Careers|
|Home||Motors||My Sun||Site Map|
|Home||My Telegraph||A To Z||Jobs|
It seemed to me that there was one notable absentee from the majority of newspaper website navigation schemes - science and technology. The Guardian and The Independent are both fighting for the eco-aware audience with primary navigation on the subject of the 'Environment'. Amongst the rest of the paper's only the Daily Mail has "Science & Tech" as a heading - and, judging by the secondary links, even that seems like more of an attempt to sell gadgets than report and inform.
In the next part of this series, I'll be looking at some of the navigation areas around sport. I'm sure we can all guess that 'Football' is the most common link, but without peeking at the sites, can you guess which are the only newspapers to fly the flag for 'Sailing' and 'Netball' as secondary navigation links?