So, the auto-playing ads on videos PSA post really prompted a lot of comments, but I wanted to follow up there with something somewhat related, but comments are locked now. (I don’t think there’s much point debating the videos themselves, as it appears out of RPS’s hands).
One often repeated complaint was that there were too many hardware articles, guides & press release posts and it drowned out the actually interesting content. (Note, this isn’t criticising the writers who do that content, as they do a good job with what they need to do).
IMHO this is an issue with the site design and discoverability. Everything is presented in one long feed with the same real estate, formatting, etc… It makes it really easy to miss more interesting stuff among all the similar looking stuff.
As an example, I clicked on the recent post about Keiron Gillen because of his name, only to discover it’s the last in a monthly column that looks pretty interesting. Looking back through that column I recognized a couple of the images/headlines, but I don’t think I’d ever clicked on any of them and most of them I’d missed entirely, so I had no idea about the existence of the column.
The same thing has happened to me a few times before, clicking on a post only to discover a column that I’d entirely missed, often just as it ended. (And often by Sin).
This seems like a big problem to me. I assume these kinds of columns are more expensive to produce than press release posts or similar content, and (imho) they’re the kind of journalism that a lot of RPS fans want, and also the kind that is endangered by the click-advertising model of the web right now.
But if people can’t even find them, it’s going to make them appear less popular and consequently we’re going to get less of them and more of the stuff that appears to get clicks.
I know the ‘simple list of content’ design is popular these days, especially on mobile, but IMHO it’s not doing RPS any favors. The box of 3 highlighted posts at the top slightly helps, but not a lot.
Regular columns each need their own box on the homepage. Features need their own box on the homepage. Reviews need their own box on the homepage.
(and I don’t mean the ‘read our reviews’ or ‘check out our hardware coverage’ 3-panel boxes that get inserted into the feed a long way down).
Things like guides, videos and hardware articles would also benefit from being separated out of the main news feed, as they don’t have the same lifespan as news articles.
Right now RPS basically has 2 columns. A main one of posts, and a side one of more posts.
This means everything flows at the pace of the news, which means a day with 10 minor news announcements will drown out a really interesting article that should hang around on the front page for a week or two. Something like Prime Day will push everything off the front page.
If things were in their own boxes that moved at their own pace, you could still get the same amount of news and hardware articles, but it wouldn’t obscure the interesting articles.
You’d also get a lot less of the perennial complaints about RPS not posting as much decent content or about Prime Day, because the decent content would be more noticeable.
(Not to say Nat and Katherine don’t do a decent job with those, but it’s a different kind of content with a different purpose).
@Graham (if the email notifications are working again).
Now I need to catch up on A Panel Shaped Screen