Friday, January 13, 2006

New skill for new media

A small reminder today that as we move onto the Web, we have to think a little differently about how we do things and how people will process them.

Here's a story from a local newspaper Web site:

Traffic signals taken out by wreck
Traffic signals are down at a major intersection in Lexington County. (Yes, that's a dead link, a result of the cut-and-paste of what was a javascript new window.)

A wreck earlier this morning resulted in the lights coming down at U.S. 1 and Gibson roads, a Lexington County emergency dispatcher said.

A S.C. Highway Patrol dispatcher said utility workers are aware of the situation and are working to repair the damage. There is no immediate word on when the lights will be repaired.

That's cool. A quick response, get it on the Web, grab a shot of a map and highlight the intersection as you see below.

But how many of our readers, the minute they hit that link to "major intersection," will stop and maybe click on that? How many of you were able to immediately remember what intersection that was?
And that's why we have to have to rethink things a bit on the Web. Instead of highlighting "major intersection," highlight "U.S. 1 and Gibson roads." That has two benefits - it calls attention to the key information and provides a mental legend for the map that opens.

This isn't knocking the paper -- good job, good response. But it's also a good illustration of how things have to be thought out a little bit differently across media.


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