CBC launched a new website yesterday, with a new layout and I guess new features (I can't find any obvious ones so far). The redesign affects the CBC.ca homepage as well as CBC News and CBC Sports websites.
Unfortunately, the new websites just copy everything that's annoying about these Web-2.0 designs:
- An irrational fear of serif fonts, even for large blocks of text where such fonts would increase readability
- Rounded corners and gradients
- Flash-based tickers and other changing content
Most importantly though, and the reason I dislike it so much, is that the layout makes no sense. There's no structure to it. No easy-to-understand way to figure out what the purpose of each section of the page is. To illustrate, let me list the sections on the CBC.ca homepage by their section title:
- Online video and audio
- Top searches
- Arts & Entertainment
- Words at Large
- CBC Inside Media
- CBC Digital Archives
- CBC Radio
- CBC Television
- Your Local News
- Regional news, features & program information
- Your comments
- Most blogged stories
- Most viewed stories
The CBC News website has even more sections than that. The sections are all of different sizes and styles, have no whitespace or lines to separate them from adjacent sections, and no logical order or structure to them. Instead of spending two seconds navigating to what you're looking for, you have to spend minutes searching through each section of the page to find it.
That business story I was looking for, for example. Is it in Money, or Consumer Life? Or On the Money?
The sad part about it is that CBC has great content and good technology and can do a much better job than this. To compare, let's take a website that isn't affected by CBC tinkering: CBC Montreal.
- News is easy to find and clearly categorized. It's all in the middle column. Top stories first, followed by the sections.
- Only one sidebar of miscellaneous material, and its "features" all have the same layout, indicating that they're all part of the same section.
- It's just the basics. Program listings, program websites, contact information and everything else is on easy-to-access subpages. All you have here is what you need: News, weather and a couple of popular links (like "listen live" and the nightly TV newscast)
Hopefully as CBC goes through its "tweaking" process, it'll make its website's structure a bit simpler and easier to understand.