The first fruits of the Joshua Topolsky-led Bloomberg web presence are slowly revealing themselves. First, it was the new error pages; then, the whole new site was revealed, and it looks a bit Verge-y. It’s not pretty, but it has a quirky charm to it that befits a business magazine that’s trying to lose its stogy perception.
Topolsky was interviewed about the new strategy by Caroline O’Donovan for Nieman, and it’s a pretty good discussion. This bit is golden, though:
Another public-facing change loyal readers are sure to notice: Bloomberg killed its comments section. Lots of media companies, from Recode to Reuters, have done this lately, which Topolsky said made him more confident in the decision. He says both writers and editors are more comfortable engaging with readers on external social platforms, where they’re likely to reach a more representative percentage of the audience.
“I’ve looked at the analytics on the commenting community versus overall audience. You’re really talking about less than one percent of the overall audience that’s engaged in commenting, even if it looks like a very active community,” he says. “In the grand scheme of the audience, it doesn’t represent the readership.”
I quite like the new site myself. Bloomberg is more of a weekly read for me, and I think the new direction helps remove some of the feeling that this is a site purely for readers with MBAs or Economics degrees. (Though, it must be said, it does this at the risk of alienating some readers who have a more conservative design sense.)
The individual article pages are more of a miss for me, though. Take their reporting on Tom Wheeler’s net neutrality proposal:
U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said he will propose utility-style rules to ensure Internet service providers don’t interfere with subscribers’ Web traffic.
Wheeler, in an article published Wednesday on Wired.com, also said he would apply “bright-line rules” to mobile services for the first time. He said the agency would not seek to regulate pricing and would seek to modernize rules to encourage investment and competition.
Good reporting, right? Well, not exactly. The bulk of this article comes from the referenced Wired article, but it simply isn’t linked. I don’t get that at all — this is the web, and they’ve already couched this in language that suggests a link. Why not do the extra step and add it?
Also, there’s an autoplaying video at the top, which is very irritating.
While I’m criticizing strange linking practices, I feel compelled to point out that Nieman isn’t innocent here. For some reason, they’ve styled their links to look identical to standard paragraph text, and it’s only when you hover over them that you see the link. That’s a basic usability and accessibility no-no. It isn’t a difficult concept.