Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mother Jones and the Interwebz

Mother Jones has a new redesign. It's charming. It's pretty. It's less clustered than their old one. But I still have some issues with it.

First of all, I would have thought that Mother Jones would have taken this opportunity of launching a new website of having some new, fresh, and interesting articles on their homepage. Instead, much of the content billed on the homepage is from their (now very old) January/February issue. They of course have new content from their blogs that they tease in a thin line of text-only hyperlinks at the top of the page, right under the header. But for the most part, much of the content on their homepage, while good, is stuff I've already read.

Secondly, I was horrified to discover that Kevin Drum, someone I've enjoyed reading since he was at the Washington Monthly, is back to a limited RSS feed. The title of his posts appear, but that's it. No teaser text. No full posts. I know that there's constantly a tension about full RSS feeds. The marketing-types will try to tell you that you need people to click over to a homepage so they can actually count who is reading the page. But for someone like me, who already scans many blogs and news articles, I find this just a waste of time. Sadly, this may mean I eliminate Kevin Drum from my RSS feed altogether. I may only read him every other day or every couple of days. Eventually, he may fall out of my daily routine and I may stop checking him altogether.

I don't mean to paint a doomsday scenario, but the reality is that if you're going to sink a lot of money into a redesign, you need to make a reason for people to go to your website. Limiting the RSS feeds and posting not-so-timely magazine articles may not be the best way to do that.

Update: Just as I was writing this post, Kevin Drum posted something saying the RSS feed is having "teething problems." I hope this gets worked out soon.

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