Bloomberg : Inverting the thread

An information journey takes an unexpected and unhelpful turn.

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The feature

Bloomberg, US-based financial and business news agency, reverses the direction of the normal information journey at a critical point.

Bloomberg represents the main index for its latest online sustainability report (covering 2013) as a scrollable mosaic of illustrated headline panels on the report’s landing page. A set of colour-coded buttons at the top of the page enables readers to sort the 21 panels by one of three categories – Products (orange), People (blue), Planet (green) – so that those for their chosen theme surface at the top of the display. A conventional list, ordered by the same categories, is available via a menu icon.

Clicking on an individual panel triggers an overlay pop-up with a summary and related content such as charts or video. Most also have a clickable invitation to Learn More that launches the downloadable version of the report in a new window. The download always opens on the report’s conventional cover page.


The takeaway

Bloomberg makes an initially impressive landing page for its report by skilfully turning what could easily have been an interest-dampening list of contents into an attractive and browsable trailer for the publication. Assured use of graphics and interactivity lead visitors easily into information-rich summaries that they can move effortlessly between and even prioritise by theme. So far so reputation-boosting for an organisation whose business is the packaging and selling of information. But once hooked, readers with an awakened appetite for More are led into an altogether less-satisfying experience. At this point the conventions of an information journey – the deeper you go the more detailed or specific the content becomes – are turned on their head. Instead of fuller coverage of, for example, Volunteers: A Commitment to Community, you are taken to the index-free home page of the download version of the report, and abandoned there.

It seems unlikely that – even given the richness of content in the overlay panes – Bloomberg intends ‘Learn More’ to be a prompt to discover other themes. The index mosaic is set up for just that purpose and in any case most readers will assume they are being encouraged to ‘Learn More about this topic’. Whatever the case, it is unsatisfactory simply to drop them in the online equivalent of the middle of nowhere – a page without signposts. There is no reason why they couldn’t be linked direct to an index or, better still, a related-content page in the download version or a tailored PDF extract – and every reason why they should be.
First published 10 June, 2014
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