Even in the time of newspapers, journalists (more specifically, reporters) didn’t have to think so much about the reader’s experience of consuming stories.
Because today we present our journalism on platforms readers already use for consumption of other media, and because of the short attention spans and all that other stuff we already know about, reporters are immersed in the creation of a “user experience.”
I’ve known this for a while, but just thought about it while reading this story on Salon, and noticing that I was looking for a link to the Vampira filmography well before a link to a documentary on Vampira appeared. Vampira is apparently a 1950s TV character that inspired Disney’s Maleficent. I wanted to see her face! That’s why I clicked on the thing to begin with.
And that made me think of a recent conversation with one of my bosses about having too many links in our stories. We don’t. Sometimes we don’t have enough because a reporter may not think to link to something, or may not have time. But it really enriches the user’s reading experience to have some extra reference — and in some cases, it eases the brunt of writing.
From a broader viewpoint, I’m less inclined to read something on a site whose content isn’t easy on my eyes (this involves layout, color schemes, command decisions, among other aspects of web design).
The content is the same. But which page are you more likely to stay on?