One of the sites I most commonly refer to on my blog is The Guardian, specifically their environment section. Compared to similarly as large and important environmental sites, like Mother Jones, I reference The Guardian because it is concise, clear, and covers global and US related environmental issues. I know for me, my scientific literacy is less than impressive, and The Guardian does a fantastic job on breaking the science of the environment down so that I can understand it.
Here’s a story I recently referred to while on my blog:
As you can see, they immediately use a form of media up at the top, and upon a quick scan of the whole article, it is concise (meaning that I’ll actually read it all). On the sidebar, there is a list of more stories popular in the U.S., and best of all without ads.
Immediately at the beginning of the story, there are ways listed to engage with the reporter as well as how many views the article has received. Another bonus to this site is that they link to all their sourced information.
Throughout the story there is also highlighted side boxes that link to related coverage, whether it be another story or related visual media.
The bottom is the only area where there is any reference to ads. These four articles above are sponsored by General Motors. It’s important to note that the site does a great job on highlighting if the content is sponsored by an outside entity and given the sizable amount of such content, this is probably their go to means of revenue.
Overall I really enjoy their layout and the ability to expand off the site to see original sources. Also the lack of ads creates a fantastic unobtrusive reading environment. The only thing that I think could be improved is the overall design of their pages. The blue and white color scheme just ins’t that engaging and makes the page feel boring.
Where The Guardian fails here is that there is no room for comment, as you can see on the the above image. Even creating an account, I have access to see my commenting history, but still do not know generally how to comment. A story the profiles their comments and the online harassment of some of their commentators, includes a count of the days comments and how many have been blocked. On Nov. 28 at 11:56 a.m., there have been 11,600 comments left today and 207 blocked by moderators.
Despite not being able to figure out where The Guardian fosters communication, they do a clear job on listing their comments policy.
The most important takeaways from their comments policy are the following:
The Guardian website provides a growing number of opportunities for readers who wish to discuss content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Our aim is to ensure this platform is inclusive and safe, and that the Guardian website is the place on the net where you will always find lively, entertaining and, above all, intelligent discussions.
– If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.
– Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
– Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.
Now for some information on the publication itself. The Guardian began as the Manchester Guardian, and was founded by John Edward Taylor in 1821, as according to the publication’s website. In 1994-95 the Guardian began developing it’s online publication, with the technology section launching in 1995 and the sites for jobs, sports, and news events launching from 1996-1998. By March 2001 they had over 2.4 million unique users, “making it the most popular UK newspaper website.” Based off of Whois.com, website now is registered on godaddy.com and owned by Guardian News & Media Limited located at Kings Place, 90 York Way, in London.
Looking at similar web.com, this month, The Guardian had 279.2 million visits, with an average visit of 2:53 and 2.65 webpages. The majority of traffic (35.01 percent) comes from the U.K., then the U.S. (24.5 percent). It’s also important to not that over 36 percent of its traffic comes from directly going to the website.
Here’s how The Guardian stacks up against some of its other competitors:
Photo by Nick (cc).