LightSquared : Scrolling news

Poor usability mars good archive presentation.

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The Site

LightSquared, a US-based wireless broadband provider, combines convenient delivery of press releases with cumbersome indexing. LightSquared’s Press Releases page within its Media Center displays the latest release in the main content panel. An index of release dates and headlines is listed in the left-hand navigation, ordered in descending chronological order (most recent first). Individual listings often occupy four or five lines and the full archive of 83 releases is shown, dating back to 20 July 2010. There is no categorisation, filtering mechanism or search. Clicking on an index entry launches the release by refreshing the main content area of the Press Releases page.

The Takeaway

If ever a cart was being put before a horse, this is it. LightSquared’s display mechanism for press releases is convenient and progressive, bringing the copy to the present page on click. But in getting users to the point of making that click, it hasn’t a clue and provides none. Anyone in a hurry – and few are more so than the principal audience of Media Center – is left no option but to scour the index headline by headline for what they want. Or reach for the telephone or give up. Simple chronological categories (year, month) in nested menus would greatly ease the congestion in the left navigation as well as the browsability of the material. Such things are commonplace and place no great demand on management of the archive, so why the scroll-heavy set up? Perhaps the archive just grew and grew without registering as an issue as the company strives to establish itself and expand. Or, related to that, perhaps the press releases service is treated internally as a variation on a news or Twitter feed, where new material is constantly topping out the pile afresh. In which case it is time to take a more mature look at the needs of journalists beyond the latest update, and develop an archive system that serves them better up to the point of delivery.
First published 23 February, 2012
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