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Analysis of three web sites

A. Content/Subject
CNN.com NYTimes.com DuluthSuperior.com
News, International News, Local News, Entertainment, Sports


Source of the communication (purpose)
News organization. Media represents "the fifth estate" and has an obligation to keep the public informed. All organizations create their own news, but Duluth News Tribune relies more heavily on Associated Press than a larger organization like the New York Times.


User (needs, interests)
The user needs to know the news, and they need to know now. Users of CNN.com are more likely to be international, as the World/International edition of CNN is more prominent. CNN markets itself as a general news network, whereas the New York Times and Duluth News Tribune are tied to regions. Because of the reputation of the New York Times, it attracts a much larger audience and its content represents a broader perspective. It offers cultural and travel reviews of cities worldwide. Readers of the Duluth News Tribune, as the alternate URL duluthsuperior.com suggests, are local. CNN.com and the New York Times place articles about Iraq and world conflict at top, whereas the Tribune is more likely to place issues of local political importance above all else.

Context (similar web sites, situation – time for exploration, circumstance)
All news websites place either important or the most recent headlines first. One of the main critiques of news websites is that readers are more likely to go to only the articles they are interested in, thus isolating their knowledge. It is claimed that the presence of multiple articles on a page in print encourage readers to consider every article instead of the most appealing.


B1. Organization of content (parts of the web site/navigation scheme)
The New York Times and Duluth News Tribune both concentrate their linkage on the lefthand column in oppositions to CNN's top and bottom heavy navigation. Second level pages are significantly different for the Times and CNN. The Tribune keeps its layout consistent throughout, which works, but is less visually appealing. CNN's navigation is somewhat confusing, because when you click on a section header (top link), you're taken to a page where the sections move to the left, which doesn't happen anywhere else.

B2. Graphic user interface:

• Grid design (communication, functionality)
Duluth New Tribune maintains a consistent grid throughout its site. The only variation is the extra column of information on the front page listing polls, photos, and most read stories. The wider margins and greater use of whitespace on CNN and the NYTimes makes text more legible than the jampacked (with nothing) News Tribune. The text on the NYTimes defaults to a much larger size.

• Usability (communication, navigation, and accessibility elements)
CNN is the only website not requiring registration to read general articles. While it's free to register at NYTimes and Duluth Tribune, it is an annoyance for a first time user who has followed a link to read an article. CNN abbreviates its articles at the top by listing 3-5 "highlights" which requires readers to read even less in order to pretend to know what they are talking about.

• Style (appearance and location of graphic, multimedia, and navigation elements)
CNN and the New York Times can afford a more sophisticated interface, which reflects their offline personas. CNN is the busier of the two, using color bars and shading buttons, echoing the network's attention span depriving television counterpart. The site also focuses on video clips because it is primarily a television news network. The Times is primarily black and white with blue for headline links and one prominent front page photograph.

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