Thursday, February 15, 2007

everything but the kitchen sink.

Therein lies the problem with most of my sports information clearinghouses -- the home pages of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and the recently redesigned Yahoo! Sports page.

These clearinghouses are sensory overload -- for someone like me, who's looking mostly to catch the best of the wires, scores, and some semi-informed commentary, the concept is admirable in concept, but poor in form. As a newspaper reader, I think the one thing the online extensions of the big name major papers have gotten right is the layout (esp. the New York Times.) The three outlets noted above all have an easy navigation bar by sport across the top, which is a standard feature.

(Note: You may ask why Fox Sports has been left out of this, and mostly it's because their front page doesn't approach the clutter level of the other three.)

ESPN, being first, is probably the worst offender, and the latest redesign hasn't made it less clunky -- there's a lot of redundancy, with features being used once in the "Spotlight" area on the front page, and can then re-appear again in the column list, or in Page 2's case, in the little section under the three "national voices" of Wojciechowski, Forde, and Scoop (HA!). Wire stuff -- what we thrive on -- and breakers usually have a little bitty bit up there before they're confirmed and expanded upon. Then again, this layout has been so cluttered for so long that it's hard to slag on it. You just expect it.

(Update: In comments, Zach notes the highly annoying automatically loading video full of ads on the right side of the WWL's screen. If you're going to include that, please don't make it play automatically. I'm trying to listen to my music on iTunes. Also: too much fucking "Insider" content -- ask the NYT how putting good stuff behind a paywall works in terms of influence; it may make money, but you're keeping potentially smart and relevant commentary from your audience. Use the Salon model of one-ad viewing and day pass.)

SI - recently redesigned, and now as tough on the eyes as ESPN with all the shades of blue (today's pimping of the swimsuit issue doesn't help the strain with the banners all over the place.) I've always hated the button on this site that advances to the next page, without offering a previous page option unless you use your "back" function, especially when those columns are seven pages long. Single pages when possible, please. Love the easy access to some great photography. The game photos shouldn't be a secondary thought, and it's nice that they feature it.

Yahoo - this one's the disappointment, especially because most Yahoo pages (see their news page and the sports news page) have a very clean, simple look; the Sports page stands out like a sore thumb with all the black and the photos. Fortunately, they've cleaned it up after the initial re-design and it's not quite such a drag on my lame DSL. Since most of my fantasy games are played in Yahoo leagues, the roster feature is nice.

So, what do you like and hate about the Big Three and their layouts? Air your grievances. All I'm saying is that I'm using the AOL sports page more and more.


Zach Landres-Schnur said...

interesting post, signal.

i have a big problem with espn (i usually go to SI, though I'm not digging the new look) and it's video that automatically plays on the right. that shit slows me down and frankly, i could be without it.

Scrap said...

Great post, I linked to it today. And I agree with almost all of it.
I go to Fox if I have a choice.

Signal to Noise said...

Thanks for the link, Scrap -- saw that.

Zach - that look on SI is HORRIBLE! (in Bill Walton style speech), but it's not like ESPN's redesign is much cleaner or superior.

Scrap said...

OH YEAH. The Insider stuff on ESPN is everywhere. I don't even go there for that reason alone. I know if I want something good I will have to pay for it. And I agree on the video too. But what do they care, they are raking it in.