I often read comments on Digg and Slashdot about the poor quality of some news site therefore I've come up with five golden rules for any news site:
1. Put the Entire Article on One Page
This must be one of the main gripes when it comes to reading articles on-line. It frustrates me, you start reading an article then for some reason it stops and you have to wait for the next page to load. There is no logical reason to it, almost everyone has scroll wheels and the concept of scrolling is well know with operating systems so why do news sites think they need to break up an article into two or more pages?
Rarely do I click past the first page of an article unless its really good, surely their site statistics tell a similar story for most users.
Good: BBC, Techcrunch
The BBC among others get this right providing the whole article on just one page
Reuters do have a 'read as one page' link however if its only a two page article it is defunct anyway. It's sites like Reuters that make me sympathise with Adblock users.
2. Use Large Images
Boston.com's big picture features are an amazing way to display images. Their recent Earth Hour article even allowed you to click on the images to see a before and after shot.
In a recent BBC survey one of the main points that came up was the size of the images within their articles so in their redesign the BBC added 20% to the size of the image. Unfortunately this is still 200% too small, I wouldn't mind if it was a thumbnail link or they made use of a lightbox like on the DailyMail website.
3. Don't use Slide shows for Images
This is mainly aimed at Forbes.com, their content is good but they display it in the worst way possible.
Good: Almost every site apart from Forbes.
Its bad enough that they use a slide show in an inappropriate way but to make it auto run and the controls barely work is a total waste of what could be good content.
4. Provide External Links Within the Article
Good: Mashable, Techcrunch, Cnet News.com
Bad: BBC, Yahoo, ITN
The BBC waste precious sidebar content with an 'External Links' section, rather than reading the article and clicking on something that interests me I have to search the sidebar for a potential link.
5.Write about something on-line without Linking to it
A number of news site do this, especially when they are covering something slightly controversial. For instance the article talks about a video on YouTube yet fails to provide a link to it. Its like talking about an architecturally stunning building/landmark without providing a picture.
This article from the BBC about Two students who dressed up as the TV character Borat then put the video online is a prime example, the BBC talk about the video online yet fail to provide a link to it.