Artemy Lebedev

§ 129. News on non-news sites

January 30, 2006

It may be high time that the corporate websites whose main page doesn’t bear news stories were included in the Endangered Species Act, as they are becoming increasingly rare.

News on the main page is the cheapest way to show the visitor that the website still has some life to it. There are some costlier techniques, though (posting theme updates, actually bringing the website up to date etc.); they are covered in other sections.

First, there’s a question that requires an up-front answer: does the website N really have news? If the website is updated less than once a month, the author would recommend dropping the word news altogether. A list of offers with links always remains one no matter what, so there’s no point in elevating its status to a newsline.

Second, if a news item is no longer current, it needs to be moved to the archive. The phrase “scheduled for today” expires in less than 24 hours.

Third, dates in news headings should be avoided. Dates can be placed either right in the text of the news, or in the archive. By definition, news must stay up to date. A date is a disposable element which clutters the space of the website.

Suppose we have entered the website of company N and see the following all-too-typical case:

Jan 15, 2006
Our company has finalized a passage from the real sector of prosperity into the unreal.

If the date of the event is relevant, it’s always present in the news body. The reader couldn’t care less for the day something was reported: he or she will anyway learn about the news at the moment of reading it.

Jan 27, 2006
On January 29 a meeting of the expanded commission for potential of the target model of business processes will be held.

The publication date is utterly superfluous. The text of the news will go out of date as early as midnight on January 30. The news item needs to be either restated (“On January 29 a meeting of… was held”) or moved to the archive.

Rule: news should be treated like movie posters: it should make sense; it should not contain the word “movie posters”; out-of-date posters should be stored in a museum; the date the poster was put into print should not be placed beside the name of the film.

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