Tumbled Logic

A ragtag blog filled with random technical nuggets, rants, raves, occasional pretty pictures, and links to things.

Oct 21

A realisation regarding the Guardian’s website

I had a realisation, while in conversation with Martin Belam about the new (and generally rather nice) Guardian iPad app: I read the Guardian in spite of the site navigation.

There are two main sections of the Guardian website that I visit: Technology and Media. Guardian Tech and mediaguardian are both brands in their own right. Both are relegated to the second-level navigation within “News”. If I end up in a section outside of “News” and want to navigate back to Tech or Media, I won’t — I’ll just type, usually with the aid of autocomplete, the URL. Indeed, the top four autocomplete matches on my laptop for “guar” are:

(Evidently I’ve been visiting the Politics section more than I thought recently).

The curious aspect of this is that although being second-level sections as far as the sitewide navigation is concerned, they are top-level sections as far as URI structure is concerned. As far as I can tell, this doesn’t apply to anything outside of “News”. In effect, the “News” top-level section is a dummy (selected by default when you arrive at the homepage).

On the Guardian website, this anomaly doesn’t negatively affect me: autocomplete is my friend.

In the iPad application, however, it’s a different matter: the “sections” consist of “Front Page”, “National”, “International”, “Financial”, “In Pictures”, “Comment”, “Editorials”, “Obituaries”, “Features”, “Arts”, “Sport” and “On the website”. There is no way to see “the media stories” or “the technology stories”.

For me, this spoils what is otherwise a nice application: I like the look and feel, and reading the articles within it is pleasant — I think it’s an big improvement on using Safari to browse the website (which itself wasn’t particularly arduous) — but I can’t actually get at the content I want to within it.

This is, it would appear, a conscious decision to align the iPad application more closely with the print edition — which seems an odd retrograde step, given the Guardian’s “digital first” kick. It also seems a very odd way of going about getting some much-needed cash out of those who currently use the website and would in the first instance be most interested in paying for a native experience around the content they’re already consuming.

All in all, it seems like a great big missed opportunity. I had really hoped that the Newsstand-friendly iPad application would be ultimate successor-in-interest to AvantGo, which is how I used to get my Media Monkey fix back in 2003. I would cheerfully pay for the subscription if the application actually gave me the content I want to read — a true improvement on using the website — but it doesn’t.

(Side-note: the lack of sharing tools is also annoying — every article needs a “view the Web version” and the standard “send to {e-mail,Twitter,Facebook,Message contact}” cadre of options, but this is somewhat moot for me just now).

  1. nevali posted this