Wednesday, September 18, 2013

USAT | After recent tweaks, new tech problems?

Maybe it's just my browser, but USA Today's website hasn't been functioning so well since the paper recently tweaked the format -- the first big changes I've seen since the site got a major redo a year ago this week.

The changes across the top now include a logo that functions two ways: the infamous blue ball to the left of the logo takes on a different "dynamic" appearance to reflect the subject of an inside story -- just like the ball in print. When clicked, the USA Today logo itself still takes readers back to the homepage.

Also changed: a huge -- and I mean huge -- search box has been added, complete with a magnifying glass and the word "search." Apparently, the previous search tool was too hard to find.

As a result of all these changes, pages have been briefly stuttering when I load them.

And early this morning, the site's really a mess. On the Money page (screenshot below), a Lincoln Financial ad pops up first when I click on a story about Jeeps. But the close-it "x" in the upper right corner is partially hidden, making it a pain to find. That doesn't endear me to an important advertiser. What's more, the logo and ball aren't loading at all.

Recent USAT screenshot shows elements that don't load.

Worth noting: I haven't been having these problems on any other site I visit, making me think it's not my browser.

Coming to a site near you!
This would all be bad enough if USAT's other millions of readers were having the same technical issues.

But I'm still having similar problems with the first community news site to adopt the same USAT template two weeks ago. That guinea pig was station WBIR in Knoxville, Tenn. -- the first of about 35 broadcast and newspaper sites to get the new look by the end of the year. Ultimately, all 100 community sites will get the redesign.

What happens when you click on USA Today or WBIR? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green rail, upper right.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. And last week, Jim, you were complaining about not having the look because???? Maybe just the big ad? And if that was the case, I got a monster pop-over on the usat site this morning. I'm confused.

  3. Jim still uses the same blogging software he had five years ago. It is now less functional than it used to be. (If you say why, he deletes the comment.)

  4. ;-) on the 'Perhaps I spoke too soon.' I know no site is perfect, but I have to give credit for keeping its own personality for so long. There was a group there that tried hard to do what it could to hold back the pay wall in the face of a competitive market, and having that big ad at times on the home page (and other indexes) was a way to bring in necessary revenue. It will be interesting to see how the usat-style template works for advertisers. Doesn't look like there are many ad positions, and I doubt that advertisers - especially local ones - will be willing to fork out more just to get some exclusivity on a page.

  5. This is the gang that cant shoot strait. Sales cant sell ads. Design sucks. Editorial is lame. Website is amateurish. There's only one place this organization is going. Down.


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