I have been taking a closer look at the latest Sustainability report from The Guardian News & Media Group yesterday. I must say that I really like the simplicity and directness but there are also some points I wanted to write about in todays post which I did not like that much and would change for the next report if I where in charge.
What I like about the Report:
- It seems that content, simplicity, accessibility and feedback options where key to the Guardian. Overall this has been achieved in a good way in my opinion. I like the layout of the Guardian website and this is no different. But there are some aspects on this topic as well addresses in the next section that i did not like so much.
- I also really liked the so called 15 minute digested read. A great idea simply realized.
- The related column on the right hand side of each page is a great way of providing cross references to other interesting content. This is exactly what would need to taken to the next level to improve the user-friendliness and navigation through the content.
What I would do differently:
- Make the structure of the content is more dynamic in order to break up the text into more readable chunks. There is so much text on some pages that it makes my head hurt after reading through only a few sections. I really like the entry page of the Sustainability section. This clearly recognisable layout or at least some kind of graphics/symbols should be there to help guide the user within the structure of the report more.
- I would recommend to use a open access commenting system such as Disqus or Intense Debate to gather the feedback. Some other newspapers use this in their online editions and I am personally not inclined to register with every website to post a comment. This is a barrier of entry for feedback that can be fixed so easily for free or very little resources.
So is this the Sustainability reporting trend for companies involved in the news and media business? I am not so sure. This is one of many approaches a media company can take. The Guardian example is a good one but I don’t think the report is at the stage yet where it really engages its audience and make them want to comment and get in involved. This is what a media company should aim for. It needs to be different because its DNA is information and content management in my opinion.
I also want to clarify that this does not mean that I would recommend a microsite and present the content in a fancy flashy way. The content and messages just need to be broken up more so that the important aspects of the individual pages are communicated to us the readers right away. This is what I would like to see in a report from a media and news company such as the Guardian.