10 tips for news websites in 10 minutes

fuck you forbes

these tips are so simple i probably wont even have to spend 10 minutes on it but i need a time limit so i dont rant all night and call your parents names

1. when someone clicks a link to your website, do not welcome them to your site with a complete page takeover and some crappy ass quote of the day that no one asked for. heres a quote of the day “you suck at the web. stop sucking.” if i was an advertiser i wouldnt want  an ad on such a page because the prospective customer is now pissed off. just give them the dumb story they wanted to read and sell them an ad somewhere on that page.

2. if you build your entire business model on stealing other peoples pictures and making funny jokes around them, do not use the smallest type size that you can to “credit” the source. not only are you being a prick, but you inspire other people to your douchey behavior. Here’s an idea, if you really want to throw some love back at the people who’s pictures you jacked, how about linking the entire picture to where you got it? It’s very easy. Ask an intern to show you.

3. when you tweet some news, don’t say “more coming”. we assume that unless you are killed in action there will be more. St. Ev only gave us 140 characters in which to rock, dont waste them.

young kurdt4. speaking of Twitter, stop pretending you dont know that there are URLs to tweets. if theres a story on your site and you are citing a tweet… link to the tweet or embed it.

5. speaking of linking if your story is all about how a reporter at a newspaper broke the biggest story of the year, you have no excuse when all the links about the story (except one at the bottom) goes to other pages in your site as opposed to other pages on their site. you are being a very bad person. and you know it. knock it off.

6. back to giving credit, dont ever say Credit YouTube or Credit Twitter. thats like if the NYT broke a story and you wrote “Credit Newsprint”. Both YouTube and Twitter are merely platforms, they’re not people, Mitt. Credit the user’s name or the username and then via Twitter. so if you wanted to credit a genius tweet of mine say Credit Tony Pierce (busblog) via Twitter. you are journalists: you have all these beautiful standards when you publish on fishwrap, use the same standards when you publish on the interwebs.

7. DO NOT BREAK LINKS. when you make a redesign, when you make an edit, when you see a mistake, when you change leadership, when you change servers, when you do anything MAKE SURE THE URLS DONT CHANGE. all of the hard work you are up to today deserves to be seen tomorrow, next year and next century. you are a massive asswipe if you break those links. this blog post from 2007 has 4 links to 3 different major news sites. only one link works today. totally unacceptable.  you want people to link to you. Google rewards you when people link to you. the web is the web because of links, many of which go to you. let them live.

8. have comments. on every page, new york times. on every story. when you dont have comments thats like saying lalalalalala i said something and i dont want to hear what you have to say lalalalalalala. its not professional, its not kosher, its not courageous, its not transparent, its not respectful. knock it off and let the people – your freakin audience – have their say.

9. just because you have given up on your sales department and you can put up a paywall doesnt mean you should. the people making these decisions are the highest paid people in the company: earn that money by being creative. paywalls are not creative.

10. and finally, link to your previous stories within your stories. the news we read today didnt just appear out of thin air. theres context to them. link to that context. stop being in such a freaking rush to OMG END THIS NIGHTMARE THAT IS THROWING THE STORY ON THE WEB and pretend that most of the people are going to read your masterpiece on the web. pretend that because you listened to #7 your hard work will live on forever on the web… so give people context to other rock solid stories on your site (and other sites) with the magical device called hyperlinks. odds are you wrote those other stories. link to them! and if you are using web producers, dont waste their time researching the writers’ old stuff, have the writers link to their own stories.

the web is like mexico. yes its very close to the US. yes many of the principles are the same. but once you realize it’s got its own thing going that you cant learn in 5 minutes in the airport, the sooner you’ll stop looking like an idiot. respect it the way you respect the old school. hire people who know what they’re doing, be patient as they guide you through this new world, and work together to bring the fundamentals of the old world with the breakthroughs of the new. otherwise the kids will just run you right the hell over.