Are my standards too high or is this new online newspaper simply not up to scratch?

<Warning: This post is full of frustration and the loss of faith in web design borne from a missed opportunity>

Recently the Caledonian Mercury “Scotland’s first truly online newspaper” launched, albeit early.  In this time of ever smaller newsrooms at traditional press, and usually hamstrung online teams, this could have been such a success. An online newspaper for the next decade. My hopes were duly raised.

I would have loved to work on that project - begging or borrowing all the functionality and usability from those that have gone before, giving it the base users have come to expect from a news site and doing it in a relevant, challenging way. Instead we are served with a crass use of Google ads unfiltered so the first thing you read is “Freddie Mercury Costumes”.  That upset me. As I say my standards may be too high but with all the mechanics for monetising content these days is this the pinnacle, the zenith?

I really don’t want to comment on this but I just can’t proceed without highlighting a real bug bear. Navigational colours. Yes I said it. There are many areas of usability that are in the eye of the beholder (or guru) but keeping navigational elements the same colour site-wide is pretty much a commandment. In this site they may not go for revolutionary monetisation, or features, or search but by god they want to rip up this standard. Article links are a different colour in each section, including a jazzy neon green that smacks of “damn I have run out of colours” syndrome. That would be ghastly but at least it is a sort of consistently – but if you search for an article then the articles are all black, which makes the links look look like a heading. I can let off the ‘pub chat’ section names – such as “Rab” or the almost un-writable “Biz Tech” but not the Crayola navigation.

Okay, I am going to stop myself now. Some of you reading this may think I am slamming something for the sake of it: quite the contrary. I am defending web design and especially the skills and dedication of genuine web designers as a profession and art. I am also defending the user. We all deserve to have great online experiences and a site that does not meet these standards is an affront to both, it lowers the standards, it slows the adoption of great usability and it does not reward the time of people with a thousand better things to do.

I wanted to discuss these views with the editor by engaging on Twitter but no one replied. As such I open this blog, and especially my first post with a subject close to my heart.

Do you agree, am I wrong? Make your voice heard below and with me on Twitter @markofrespect