09 August 2008

Straits Times redesigned, parts 1 and 2

Singapore's leading English daily, the Straits Times, relaunched a revamped version 8 August. The redesign of the print version looks successful. The online versions, however, still look messy. Part 1 and Part 2.

13 comments:

yuen said...

I am pretty indifferent between the old and new looks of the paper, and vaguely remember there was a revamp a few years ago so the new one may not last that long either

I was more interested in Chua Mui Hoong's commentary article, which exemplifies the greatest shortcoming of ST - the poor commentary articles on local politics; she basically repeats MM's theory that some foreigners find the singapore modeal worth emulating and other foreigners find this threatening, but she expressed it worse by using the word "hate", which badly mis-reads the situation; Far Eastern Economic Review might be very angry at the Singapore government for costing it a lot of money in lawsuits, and the Australian press might be angry at Singapore's hanging of one of their citizens for trafficking, but "FEER hates Singapore because its model of social development is too successful"? I dont think either HK nor Australia is trying to export its social model to China or Russia, and I doubt many of the journalists are that interested in Singapore's model; they are really more interested in specific issues

Anonymous said...

The Mainstream Media (MSM) globally are in a state of steep decline. Alternative news media and citizen journalism mainly centered over the internet are taking over from the MSM. The main problems with MSM are:
1. They are often seen colluding with the establishment.
2. They no longer serve the masses with their social commentary or bringing out social issues to public attention.
3. They practice self censorship to avoid affecting their revenue side of the business ie. corporate advertisements or to avoid confrontation with govts or with security agencies.
4. They are lagging behind the internet in bring up breaking news and news sources. Eg. The Iraqi POWs mistreatment showed up in a commercial photo sharing website first before being picked up by '60 minutes'. The Wee Shu-Min elistism scandal took place in the internet before being picked up by the MSM. The irony was that it [the MSM] had rejected the orignal article by Blogger Derek Wee on job insecurity & age discrimination in Spore before WSM picked it up and gave a lunatic rant & rave response in her own blog and told Mr Wee to 'get out of my elite uncaring face' - her famous words. Everything happened in cyberspace before the MSM got wind of it.
The Straits Times & the online version subscribers base is not growing. It is no coincidence that it is repackaging itself [for umpteen time!] to the marketplace. Frankly, it's a lost cause! It no longer has any credibility with the public. The MSM - ST, BT, New Paper, Today and even CNA (website) are losing viewers. Emigration of english speaking Sporeans, alternative sources of news over the internet & a general apathy towards Spore MSM for their lack of credibility - is the final nail on the coffin for MSMs.
Spore blogs (Mr Brown, Mr Wang says so, Singabloodypore, Yawning Bread, etc.), alternative news sources (Spore windows, Little Speck), political no-holds-barred forums (sammyboy coffeeshop, Spore review, sintercom) are probably ranked ahead of the 140-ranked Spore MSM in the minds of net-savvy Sporeans.
Mr Brown brought up Spore's rising cost of living in Today paper a while ago. He got hammered by MICA [Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts] and got suspended by Today paper after the govt's official response. Recently, a group of people [SDP supporters] staged a 'Tak Boleh Tahan' protest at Toa Payoh Central - they were to appear in court for the protest. Expatriates and foreign workers alike are bailing out of Spore due to its high cost of living - it appears that they 'tak boleh tahan'! By ignoring those social commentaries & protest, it appears that the govt are putting on blinkers to avoid acknowledging hard facts. Sad!

shaox said...

Am I the only one to catch the hilarious typo on pg 2 Home section of the ST on 8th August?

"By next June, the three ironic 55-storey hotel blocks should be completed, ..."

And I actually found the JC "love education" article on the front page of the main ST section on the same day to be quite offensive, particularly this statement

"Hopefully, it will get them in the right frame of mind to want to eventually marry and have babies"

So it looks like while they did a revamp of their templates, the editorial standards still leaves much to be desired.

TFM said...

I'm an avid reader, a regular if you will, and I've always found YB entries very substancial with particularly interesting viewpoints on current issues.

That said, I have to say this entry verged on nitpicking for me, very much like how YB always complains about how Singaporeans nitpick and whine about very single little thing, and expect someone up there to do something to correct it.

Sure, the flaws and your pointing out of them are warranted, but are there any suggestions to improve them? No proactivity at all, and I found it all very uncharacteristic for you YB.

Not everyone's perfect, and I think the online version of ST was obviously rushed out, but thats not to say they're gonna leave it like that, obviously they will do something about it, and people are working on it this very moment.

Online media is very much taken for granted here, and half-hearted or not, I'm glad ST is taking steps to correct this lapse of attention toward the netizens.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

tfm -

Of course ST will fix the executional problems over time; the design problems however will likely stay until the next revamp.

But that does not excuse either design or executional failings. Unlike a personal blog or free website, the ST site is a corporate product, and people like me pay money each year as a subscriber to use it.

They therefore should be held to higher standards than personal or free websites. I do not think my criticisms are nitpicking. The features that their customers are paying for must work (e.g. the Archive function, still does not exist, and we're into the second day now. I am frustrated about this because there is something I am waiting to do research for).

Even the look of a site is important, because it is part of branding, which can add or subtract value from a company.

Most importantly, the main message of what I was writing about was this: what does the rolling-out of an incomplete product (and one with design problems, e.g. sectioning) tell us about management?

And why are we interested in the quality of the management? Because SPH is a public-listed company. Many members of the public have invested money as shareholders. Myself too.

Anonymous said...

"At 09 August, 2008 20:37 , Anonymous TFM said...
"Not everyone's perfect, and I think the online version of ST was obviously rushed out, but thats not to say they're gonna leave it like that, obviously they will do something about it, and people are working on it this very moment."

I do Not agree with your statement. You obviously have not worked in an internet company and understand the value of having web site that is navigable from day one of operation! The web site or most importantly the top page is your public face to your clients! If you get it wrong, nobody would enter or patronize it. In short, your company is seen by the public to be UNprofessional, lacking connectivity with its target audience. ST Online failed miserably and has always failed in many instances. Its sister site ST701.com that features online job ads is another case in point. It new look & feel was launched yonkers ago & to this day, its job search function is stupidly primitive! Also, once you click on a job ad, there is NO way you can navigate back to your search result page and you need to click on "search" button again to bring back the search results. Obviously, ST lacks rapport with its online audience. Makes me wonder whether they had invited focus groups to give a criticism of their sites before they launched the new look!!

Anonymous said...

And also, for the ST Breaking News, if you try to right click on Blogs to "Open New Tab", you simply can't do it. It will open in a new window.

Anonymous said...

And the My Paper site is even worse, although I guess it's been up for a while. Totally uninstinctive and a visual dog's breakfast!

yuen said...

I wasnt the only one to find Chua's article silly

> ST Forum > Story
The world doesn't dislike Singapore

I REFER to last Saturday's commentary by Ms Chua Lee Hoong, 'Why they hate Singapore'. Singaporeans celebrated National Day last Saturday and deserve the world's congratulations.
Trying to describe why Western democracies may 'not like' Singapore is absurd and na�ve, and is probably based on a lack of general understanding and knowledge of how most of the Western world perceives Singapore today.

Western perception
Trying to describe why Western democracies may 'not like' Singapore is absurd and na�ve and is probably based on a lack of general understanding and knowledge of how most of the Western world perceives Singapore today.

The world has other problems and people elsewhere simply do not care about having Singapore on their radar screen of dislike
... more
I was born in Belgium, lived in four European countries, the Middle East and Hong Kong.

I have worked and lived in Singapore for the past 10 years; my wife is Singaporean, and so are my two youngest children. Yes, Singapore is a very good place to live and work in, probably one of the best globally. Singapore is very well 'managed' and that's where its difference from many other countries lies. Singapore is not governed, but managed as a company with 4.7 million shareholders.

You have a vision and you have good managers who understand how to implement that vision and its strategies.

You hire the best to ensure you remain competitive and highly profitable in order to secure the future of your citizens.

Singapore's business model achieves its aim, and I am sure many of its achievements can be 're-packed' into potentially highly successful export products.

Success is the creation of balance, stability and prosperity between the managers, employees and shareholders or citizens. Western democracies, on the other hand, have their successes too.

Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Norway and Finland - as well as some Middle East countries - are all worth studying and emulating.

Putting China and Singapore on the same page because both are so-called authoritarian states is wrong. There is nothing common to both, except for the ethnic origin of the majority race.

China is a country of 1.3 billion, pushed into a highly regulated, market-driven economy at lightning speed, causing lots of collateral damage.

We all know what Singapore is. I am sure Chinese and Russians, and many other nationalities, visit Singapore to study and learn its best traits.

They also visit many other countries - as do Singaporeans- which do certain things better than the Republic.

It's na�ve, (or arrogant?), to think that the whole world visits only Singapore.

The meaning of the word, 'hate' should be carefully weighed before using it. There are two meanings to hate: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury; or extreme dislike or antipathy.

I have travelled the world for the past 32 years. I have never encountered or heard a single person or group who hates Singapore - or even dislikes the Republic. At most, Singapore is criticised for banning 'chewing gum' and for its lack of freedom of speech.

Mostly, however, and especially among Westerners, Singapore is praised for being clean, affordable and secure, and for its wonderful food.

The world has other problems, and people elsewhere simply do not care about having Singapore on their radar screen of dislike.


Bruno Serrien

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, I remembered one instance of ST revamp during which they have cramped don't-know 8 or 10 vertical columns in a single page.

And I remember clearly though not exact word for word, that ST claimed that this way can delivere more content in a single page, which what many worldwide papers are doing.

And I also remembered very very quietly, again don't-know after how many years or months they discarded this that many of cloumns.
In Hokkien lingo 'as long as you are happy' (say what you like)...

What can one derive of this justification for changes ? Which organisation will not tell you that they change 'to serve you better' or they change 'because of you'

Haha - this much is said of the ops standards of ST.

Anonymous said...

the way i see it this is the typical singapore way of doing things, thinking process is rushed hence changes/revamps are required again (wasting tax payer's money in some other issues) when it was only not too long ago the St Times web sites was revamped.

and has anyone noted that the online ST Forums section only have limited number of discussions or threads as compared to the old forum.

is there a hidden agenda to curb freedom of speech/comments and airing of the people's views on news issues/forum letters.

someone trying to silence the people from posting perceived critical replies or comments of those "power to be" in some letters?

note the national day speech "cyber enemies" these 2 words was mentioned....

majulah said...

Your observations about the ST online version(s) hit the nail on the head. I was driven to despair by their effort to attract readers to one of the sections by "flashing" it and that made parts of the page above it jog up and down too. Most disconcerting.

Anyway, this is what a lot of money and not much regard for the consumer will do for you.

thomask said...

i just came across this blog post concerning business models of successful (print) newspapers, and the business week article it takes its lead from:

http://aphotoeditor.com/2008/08/19/media-needs-a-makeover/

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_34/b4097094901129.htm

both articles contain some good points as to why rearranging the ST layout is like rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. firstly, the bild maintains strong circulation because thriving competition kept it from becoming complacent (there's that C word again...), and secondly, content content content. it really is beyond me why anyone would actually read the ST, either online or print, and it really is beyond me as to why you'd pay for the online experience?? i guess unless it's to keep up with how bad it actually is?