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A comparison of the Eastern Cape’s The Herald website and the BBC and CNN websites highlights some interesting differences in the design and layout of news websites.  

In comparison to two of the world’s most well known news sites, The Herald’s website comes across as old fashioned and simplistic. The main banner identifying the website has pictures of Nelson Mandela, an elephant, dolphins and a surfer which tends to make the website look more like a tourism site than a news site. Both CNN and BBC have gone for a cleaner, simpler look with their names being used as the identifying brands.  

There is one wide central column of news running down the The Herald website with a listing of articles. Both the BBC and CNN have very different layouts based on a three-column block layout, which have a much fresher, livelier look. The Herald’s news articles are not differentiated from each other. However within each article description there is use of hierarchy with the headings being displayed in a larger text size and a different colour in comparison to the introductory lines of the article.  

The use of blue for the article titles on The Herald website, as well as the “…more” links, assists readers in identifying that these are links that can be clicked through. However, the use of blue as the dominant layout colour of the website undermines this use of hypertexuality. The choice of blue seems to have been done with the intention of linking the colour and therefore the brand of the print edition to the online edition. In contrast the CNN website has gone for the traditional publishing colours of red, black, white and grey and has a very professional style.   

The Herald website does not make use of chunking which the BBC and CNN use to greater effect. It also does not make use of photos on its home page, which is a great pity as photos are an important element of news and a great way of grabbing readers’ attention.

The CNN and BBC websites make use of new media formats such as podcasts, audio and videoclips, while The Herald has yet to pick up on these innovative ways of communicating with their audience. In addition, there is little effort to encourage interactivity between The Herald and its readers, while CNN encourages readers to share their stories on its main page.

Class exercise 

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