Our take on the Argus Leader.com redesign

Yup. The Argus did a redesign.

How can I sum it up in one sentence or less? How about:
"I now have to scroll past pictures of somebody's cat to see today's news."
That pretty much sums it up right there, and you can quote me directly.

Yes, yes, I know my friend Todd likes it. But at the moment, count me in the other column.

I'm not saying it couldn't be great, but it's just like the same mad jumble they tried two years ago in the election, where they had a political website that they sort of paid attention to, and then it dropped off the earth. As well as other failed Argus experiments (Did someone mention the Argus Blog?).

Now, as they did back then, the Argus committed the error of trying to be too many things to too many people. And they failed then as I expect they will now.

My prediction? Watch for another re-design within 6 months.

I mean, c'mon. For starters, the layout looks like something I barfed up in this mad, mad jumble of weather, advertisements, community websites, photos, our voice, your voice, the cat's voice, featured video, podcasts, Samantha's adventure, by Savannah Farm (12 yrs old), and anything they think they can throw on it.

Wait, did somebody break wind? That deserves seven inches of one of the six columns on the webpage.

The main problem? Isn't there something to be said for logical organization? I still can't find where they have their seven day archive of articles. In other words, I'm having trouble finding all of the news on a newspaper's website.

But by gosh, I can find the video of the publisher with the commercial from McGreevy Clinic Avera intoducing a robotic monologue from Arnold Garson explaining how they want to "own the conversation around local news as well as local news."

What, wasn't placing exclusive newsracks around Sioux Falls and kicking the competitors off enough? What's next? Owning the conversation about conversation ownership? "Conversation ownership" - There's some consultant's buzzword that's going to win you the support of the blogging community (you know, that thing you've tried and failed at twice).

If I go to the website for a newspaper, it's because I'm looking for an electronic copy of the news that I subscribe to in at least three locations. I'm a news junkie. And I want it at my fingertips, not buried in some nigh impossible place to divine it from.

The thing is, I thought their previous incarnation was humming along just fine. The news was readily available and when you opened up the website, you actually had it all right there. Now, it's most of the way down the page.

Yep. I remember the good old days when a newspaper had news. And so did thier website. Now, it's newfangled podcasts and video and pictures of someone's cat.

And I used to walk two miles uphill in a snowstorm to the mail box to get it.

You kids have it so easy.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I agree that the new Argus site is awful - the news is at the very bottom of the page! Are they on crack?

Readers are allowed to write their own stories, which is fine, except that is up top AND THE NEWS IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE!

Why don't they look at www.nytimes.com, or www.washingtonpost.com, or one of the eight trillion other newspaper sites that are decent. Because their page unquestionably wins the award for worst newspaper website ever! Even the Madison Daily Leader has a better, more usable page than this!
Randy said…
You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. I find the Argus Leader's talk of "owning the conversation" very revealing. We are all damn lucky for the internet, because I remember a day and age when the Argus Leader really did "own the conversation." They were the only game in town. They are still just as arrogant and liberal as they were then, but now at least a few bloggers can make sure they don't have a COMPLETE monopoly on the news. If they were serious about making the Argus a better newspaper, they'd clear out all the dead wood and liberal hacks who run the newspaper and freeze out the non-liberals. At this point, they are just rearranging the deck chairs on a newspaper that continues to sink in credibility and value. Their own arrogance and liberalism won't allow them to make the changes they need to make.
Anonymous said…
If Gannett only knew what a bunch of liberal bozos ran the Argus Leader and how much money they cost them it would get ugly. The Argus has a high-profit local monopoly just because they are the only game in town, but they could actually make more money if the paper didn't suck so much. Maybe Gannett will figure this out and make some changes. Does anyone really think that Randell Beck makes people trust the Argus Leader or make people want to read it? No--clowns like Beck and Baldwin etc just make people want to cancel their subscription.
Douglas said…
I am not impressed with the new Argus Format. Take a look at Dakota Today for my comments; but I really don't see that design is either a good or evil talent of liberals or conservatives.

The Argus is not liberal except in comparison to the old GOP broadsheet run by Christopherson years ago. Conservatives read anything that doesn't fit into their preconceptions of fact or fiction from Fox and Rush and they assume it must be an evil liberal plot of somekind. Sometimes the bad news for Bush lovers and conservatives is just fact and reality and has nothing to do with liberal or conservative.
Anonymous said…
I've lived in 5 cities and Argus Leader is by far the WORST newspaper I've ever read. I don't know the people who run it like some people on the South Dakota blogs, but I can readily see from the output that they do a very poor job. Thing is: it doesn't take a genius to run a paper and generate copy. South Dakota is a very interesting state, I don't understand why reading the Argus makes it seem boring.
Anonymous said…
Thank you, Bonnie, for that obnoxiously long post. I am certainly glad you didn't merely link to the page where you got that from.
PP said…
I agree.

Besides, I thought she wasn't reading this website anymore.

Hence, bonnie is denied.
mjb said…
If Bonnie Russell fell over in the woods in California, and didn't have a computer to post messages to South Dakota websites, would anyone here care?
PP said…
Only if the tree fell on her.

Then it would be funny.
Tim said…
I'm am so far behind I am not only late in commenting, I discover I missed a Bonnie rant!?!?!?

Anyway, you hit the nail on the head PP. The print Argus that shows up on my doorstep each morning is no better. Let's have the reader look at photos by other readers (some 20 years) old and then have them search for the news. And here's an idea! Maybe if we put our editorial on the top front page of the local section, people will think its news.

At this point, the content is so inane that ir doesn't rise to a level of discourse that would bring terms like liberal or conservative into play.
Scott said…
"I now have to scroll past pictures of somebody's cat to see today's news."

Hahahaha!!! That is the funniest line I've read in weeks.

It seems to me that the majority of changes are just cosmetic. The letters to the editor are moved to page two of the Local News section (and in bigger type), there's some flashier graphics, and a lot of inane small-town local interest stories. And I really hate that the Life section is now in tabloid form.

Once again, it's style over substance.

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