Writing for The Lost Ogle sometimes isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Sure, the champagne-fueled hot tub parties, private helicopter access, and VIP treatment at Braum’s are all great perks, but there are bad sides too.
Probably the worst part is having to read an inordinate amount of local news, like way more than anyone should consume without losing their sanity. This of course means endlessly scrolling through news sites looking for anything dumb or funny or enraging enough to comment on for the pleasure of you, the reader.
Spending any time on those sites makes you quickly realize how clunky and useless they are. Today, I present to you the major metro news sites judged and graded based on the desktop user experience. Maybe next week I’ll get frustrated and grade the mobile browsers, which account for more than 70% of all web traffic.
-Layout: Like most of these sites, they’re trying to squeeze as much content on the first page as possible, but at least it’s fairly well-organized and doesn’t make you want to set your eyeballs on fire just trying to scroll through. The top banner is easy to navigate with plenty of options, and although there isn’t an easy way to just see local stories, they’re not pushing the national affiliate stories too hard.
-Advertisements: Thankfully, ads aren’t super obtrusive here. other than some small ads that pops up at the bottom when you click an article, and those dumb clickbait ones that are on all these sites that are like a picture of some teeth and a caption like ‘What is in your bottled water may surprise you!’
-Content: With locally famous special interest segments like ‘In Your Corner’ and ‘Is This a Great State Or What,’ KFOR leans in heavy with those pieces. The video quality can tend to be lower resolution at times, but it’s passable. They also autoplay and will continue to play random videos after the first one is finished, which drives me bananas.
-Layout: This site is an absolute nightmare. After you scroll past the headlines on the front page, it devolves into a random collage of advertisements and stories with no apparent structure to any of it. The website is practically daring you to use it, like some kind of Fear Factor challenge where instead of spending ten minutes in the centipede tank, you have to find anything worth clicking. I’ll take the centipedes.
-Advertisements: Sites like KOCO are what ad blockers were invented for. No matter where you are in an article, there is at least one giant advertisement, mostly those Google ads that try to personally target you but are never quite right.
-Content: Unless you specifically are on the ‘local’ section, most of the stories are national ones from AP or whatever. Most of the local stories are just a few paragraphs, so at least you’re not spending very much time on this cursed site. As a positive, the videos don’t autoplay, but they do come on with the volume jacked to the max.
-Layout: The front page is an explosion of images that make me want to immediately turn around and leave. There’s no section for local content, and the menu isn’t very helpful.
-Advertisements: The site utilizes pop-up ads, which is the easiest way to ruin any user experience. Otherwise, they are fairly organized and not completely scattershot, other than that clusterfuck of a front page. One of the ads was for a t-shirt that read, ‘I STAND FOR THE FLAG AND KNEEL FOR THE CROSS,’ which makes it clear that I am not the target audience here.
-Content: News 9 seems to have pivoted HARD to video, as some of the stories don’t even have an accompanying article. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d always rather read than watch the news, but I suppose they are a TV station, after all. The layout makes is so difficult to find something I want to read though, as it often just repeats the same stories.
-Layout: Although it looks like a page your grandma made on Squarespace, there’s something to be said about austerity. It almost looks barren compared to most of the other local sites, but the white space is pleasing after slogging through News 9. They’re not trying to cram every single square inch of the screen in ads, and it’s fairly easy to navigate.
-Advertisements: Almost all of the ads I encountered were typical Google ad network ads.
-Content: Most of the articles I clicked were like 5 sentences, each broken into its own paragraph, which is lazy when there’s stuff like this story about a guy breaking into a house to steal snack cakes. C’mon, even here at TLO, we could get at least 500 words out of that!
Well, I guess KFOR Channel 4 wins this battle of the desktops with a C+. It could be a lot better, and could be a little worse, which is also a perfect way to describe TV news in general.