A review of Uganda’s news websites

By Eronie Kamukama

NEW VISION

New Vision is one of Uganda’s leading daily newspapers. It is one of those newspapers that realized the need for an online news site due to the trends in consumer demand for online news.

According to the Managing Editor of New Vision, Ben Opolot, the shift to an online version has been due to the fact that the English newspaper market in Uganda is shrinking.

Ease of Usability

  • It is easy to find information on what article you are looking for because there is a search button at the top of the New Vision website. However, sometimes when one types in the Search button, they are requested to put the date and year of publication yet as a reader, one might not have the patience or time to put those details.
  • The information has been categorized and the categories are at the top, one does not have to first scroll down looking for categories.

NEW VISION WEBSITE

  • Once one has already scrolled down after reading a story, they do not have to go back up to look for the categories because the information is again categorized as one scrolls down.
  • The website has an archive button at the top of the homepage where you can search for a story that was published years ago.
  • The font type is good but the font size is small which makes one strain their eyes.

 

Length of stories

New Vision is inconsistent with the way their online stories are written. Some stories are short while others are too long to be standard online stories. There are no links, no lists and no block quotes.

For example…http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/669499-technology-entrepreneurs-discuss-opportunities-for-generating-revenue-online.html

Content                                                                               

  • The content is very important and appropriate for its readers because it speaks directly to each of its target audiences.
  • The content is fairly well presented because it has a multimedia element to it. It observes the use of photos, text and some videos. I still think it is important for the site to have audio and more video relating to the stories published.
  • The content is also engaging because the stories are given human face i.e. human interest stories and such stories leave the readers’ minds discussing issues at hand.
  • There is a provision for feedback on the different stories published and readers can comment. The New Vision also has an Opinion Poll on its website and they pose questions derived from a particular story they have run on their website. This engages the readers well.
New Vision feedback platforms

New Vision feedback platforms

Content layout

The layout of this news site is good because it is easily scannable as content is categorized. There are several headings with a photo and summary of what the story is about. These headings are linked to the full story and below the summary, there is a link saying “full story” if one wants to go on.

For example:

Insurance brokers colluding with car owners to defraud 7 hours ago

A survey conducted by financial firm KPMG reveals that insurance brokers are colluding with car owners to defraud insurance firms which is making overall insurance packages expensive…..

full story

However, sometimes it publishes with a headline, a photo and a long piece of text.

In this story..http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/669491-ura-boss-doris-akol-promotes-transparency.html

 

THE OBSERVER

Homepage

At the top of the homepage is the name of the website that is The Observer and an advert of MTN. The name of the site does not stand out as it directly competes with the MTN advert that takes up most of the space and has bright colors.

observer

 

Navigation of The Observer website is partially good. The website has its navigation at the top of the homepage which makes it easier for the reader to find what they are looking for without having to first scroll down.

However, the font size of the menu or categories is small which makes it a little insignificant and hard to recognize.

The search button is included on this menu and is not easily recognizable.

However, there should be an independent search button so that the reader can easily type in what they are looking for without having to “click search” first, open a new tab and then type what they are looking for.

There is good color maintenance throughout the website, that is the white and different shades of blue. The colors easily blend although the entire homepage is not too attractive to look at.

As one scrolls down the homepage, there is a lot of white space which I think the website should have utilized by adding more content, for example a photo gallery, opinion polls etc.

Content

Adverts

The content available is in form of adverts and news. The adverts are big enough which makes them visible to readers. Some of the adverts are closer to the editorial stories which makes it possible for the readers to see them.

News

The information is in form of hard news, features, analysis and commentary. The news disseminated is credible because it is well sourced or attributed, as well as relevant for its audience. The information is also timely and its good that the website indicates the time the stories are uploaded.

  • The content is easily scannable because it is well categorized.
  • There are headlines for each story and the font size is small which increases reading concentration (focused reading of each word).

observer biz

  • The stories have introductory paragraphs that give readers an idea of what the story is about and they are likely to be read.
  • The stories have a headline, followed by a big photo and a long block of text. The paragraphs are not too long because they have at most four lines of text each which is likely to encourage reading.

However, some stories are too long without any graphics, any links, more photos, block quotes or even lists. This makes it boring and discourages reading.

For example…..http://www.observer.ug/education/38216-universities-urged-to-increase-enrolment-numbers

The font size of the text is too small which makes readability hard.

 

bigeye.ug

HOMEPAGE LAYOUT

General home page layout is good.

The bigeye.ug website has good navigation that is very visible. The categories are at the top of the homepage and others repeated as one scrolls on the page.

web

  • There is an independent search button that is very recognizable.
  • There is good space utilization on the site.
  • The font type and size are good as they make the text legible.

 Content

  • The stories are in form of text, accompanied with photos and audio sometimes.

big eye 1

  • The stories published on bigeye.ug are relevant for the site’s readers who are interested in Entertainment news. However, some of its information is not credible because it is based on rumors/unconfirmed claims.
  • The stories published are precise, short and written with simple English. This makes it easier to read the stories without getting tired of too much unnecessary information.
  • The paragraphs are broken down to at least four lines in some stories which does not make the story boring to read.
  • The aspect of making certain words in text bold is good as it makes these key words as it puts emphasis on them.
  • The information given in the stories is well attributed and this makes it credible to a reader.
  • There is good use of links that give a reader a clue on more information about the story.
  • There is good use of big sized photos after a short piece of text in the stories which makes it easy to attract readers’ attention.
  • The words in headlines are not capitalized yet this would make the headlines stand out of the entire page.

Adverts

Text adverts are distinguishable from the normal text by giving them a red color. However, the adverts ask users to “click here” to subscribe to the advertised products.

I think this acts a s a barrier to readers because personally I might simply continue scanning through text because I do not have the patience to first click and wait for a page to load so as to register for a product.

Interactivity

There is good use of social media that enables interactivity. The website has social media buttons at the end of each story that engage readers by allowing them to give their views/comments on the stories published.

 

THE INDEPENDENT

The Independent is a Ugandan website that publishes general news but known for its analysis on critical issues in the country.

The website’s name is is outstanding given the good use of large font size that is in bold letters.

THE INDEPENDENT

The Independent website has a well laid out homepage with clear content that is easily navigable.

The site has moderate content and is not crowded. This allows the website to breathe and the reader to easily scan through content.

  • The navigation is at the top of the homepage and this enables easy access to information. There is a search button at the top right side of the site.
  • The content is further categorized in the middle and at the end of the website to avoid scrolling up again.
  • The stories are presented in a list form which makes them more readable and brief.

independent

  • The stories under each category have short subtitles and full stories are only  click away using the available links.
  • Font type and size are good so stories are legible.
  • The website has a multimedia aspect to it so readers have variety of news formats. There is text, graphics in form of cartoons, photo gallery and video (You-tube).
  • The content is relevant and credible with full analysis and attribution to sources.
  • The adverts are visible and well placed.

However, stories are too long although the paragraphs are short.

  • There are no links used.
  • There are no bullets or lists highlighting any events.
  • There is only one photo used at the beginning of the story.
  • There are no block quotes for outstanding remarks that would break the long grey text down.

For example….http://www.independent.co.ug/news/regional-news/10308-burundis-fate

Interactivity

There are social media icons at the top right side of the website for feedback. Each story has these social media icons at the end to enable readers give their comments on the issues at hand.

In conclusion, these news websites are still lacking especially in the way the content is presented for the readers.  They need to make a few changes by publishing more concise stories with links in stories and block quotes.

They should cut down on the sizes of paragraphs by putting bullets and make stories more interesting to look at using multimedia tools.

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