New Orleans’ tech crowd unimpressed by NOLA.com

Gambit
Starting this fall, The Times-Picayune will be all about the Web, so who better to go to for buy-in than New Orleans’ tech community? As Gambit’s Kevin Allman reports, NOLA Media Group President Ricky Mathews and NOLA.com editor James O’Byrne didn’t exactly get a warm reception Wednesday night.

The crowd expressed unhappiness with NOLA.com, which after its redesign “more closely resembles a scrolling, Facebook-like stream of stories.”

“The UI [user interface] — it’s one of the worst websites I use every day. By a lot,” said one man. “If you load a page on NOLA.com, less than 15 percent of it is content. The rest of it is ads, and links to more content, and if you mouse down to get to it, there’s a giant menu that covers whatever scrap of content that remains.”

Asked what newspaper sites they liked, the crowd had plenty of answers: The New York Times, Bloomberg, the Los Angeles Times. …

“I just think we all want to see you have a website which is not the website you have,” said one man, “that is worthy of the kind of journalism that came out after [Hurricane] Katrina, the [Louisiana INCarcerated] prison system series, all that. It’s not there, and I’m sure some of your journalists are waiting to see it as well.”

Advances’ websites are generally run by Advance Digital, which is separate from its various newspaper properties. In the new setup, NOLA Media Group will oversee content and sales for the newspaper and the website.

In a letter notifying the Louisiana Workforce Commission of the layoffs, The Times-Picayune said that Advance Digital “will continue to serve as the innovation engine behind the growth and development of an array of our products and services.”

Many have noted that as of 2010, 36 percent of New Orleans residents didn’t have broadband access at home. Mathews told the crowd, “We’re going to invest money working with the Knight Foundation to begin to make a dent in it.”

Here’s what Andrew Sherry, vice president of communications for Knight, told me via email about that:

Knight Foundation is willing to engage with any organization that is serious about serving its community through the dissemination of news and information on digital platforms, including the NOLA Media Group. But we prefer not to comment on discussions that may or may not be under way about individual grants.

Earlier: NOLA.com drops yellow backdrop for “gentler, more muted color palette of grey and blue” (NOLA.com) | Give Advance credit for trying to repair the newspaper business model before it’s too late (INMA) || Related: African-Americans take greater hit in Times-Picayune layoffs (Poynter) | Cutting print is a money-loser for Times-Picayune, but cutting staff makes changes slightly profitable (Poynter)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=21312358 Kaylyn Santhouse

    Both my boyfriend and I contracted computer viruses after visiting NOLA.com last year (his while checking on the drinking water ban and me during the Missippi flooding – important things people without internet access probably would want to know about too.) A friend of ours got a virus from NOLA.com just earlier this year while checking parade schedules. Needless to say, we all hate that website.

  • Kate McCarty

    That’s been my concern all along; the new websites will be zippy and pretty, maybe, but there will be no depth; how can there be with so few reporting and editing? The city is the real looser in this, as is the democracy and all it encompasses. RIP Times-Picayune, Brimingham New, Mobile Press-Register, Huntsville Times.