New Sky News site misses 2.0 opportunities

The new Sky News site is finally live, and it’s an improvement. Mind you, having had basically the same site for six years, it had to be.

As you’d expect for any major site relaunch at the moment, it’s got lots of white, lots of grey gradient graphics, and some nice Flash/javascript effects. Reasonably close to the on-air look, without being overwhelming. Designed with a 1024×768 screen resolution in mind, so it feels expansive, but there’s actually surprisingly little content ‘above the fold’. (Or maybe that’s just because of this morning’s picture lead.)

The single best thing they’ve done is the way they’ve made video work with the stories, embedding it YouTube-style alongside, and delivering it in Flash. This should really boost the traffic to Sky’s video material.

On the minus side, there are (perhaps inevitably) A FEW TOO MANY CAPITAL LETTERS. I’m a bit disappointed they haven’t been able to do more with picture galleries, which were always a great traffic generator – I’d have suggested using Slightbox or something, easy to implement with an instantly richer experience. They’re persisting with left-aligned imagery on stories, which just doesn’t work in a dynamic page rendering environment.

But perhaps most disappointing of all is the continuation of their chaotic approach to blogs. Still hosted at Typepad, all on separate accounts, with some – but not yet all – migrated over to the new look. The new site’s page of ‘blogs’ omits the blogging efforts by the highest profile correspondents (Boulton, Brunt, Wilson), and most curiously, has zero mention of the ‘Viewpoint’ blog by viewers editor Paul Bromley… which hasn’t seen a single post this month. (Surely these haven’t been dumped? – most of them had fresh material posted yesterday.)

Instead, it heralds more new blogs – Europe correspondent Greg Milam; something called ‘Your Stories‘ which sounds like a promotional page for their email inbox, rather than a blog anyone would actually read; and an ‘Editor’s Blog‘ – kicking off with a post by someone who isn’t actually the Editor.

Overall – I think it’s a good site by ‘web 1.0’ standards. But it doesn’t do enough to lift itself into ‘2.0’, and as such, I fear it might be a missed opportunity. The web is increasingly about informality, speed, frequency, sociability. All of which should play into Sky’s hands, as a small but agile operation without the monolithic baggage of its main rival, the BBC. But the potential remains unfulfilled.

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