September 1, 2014

NBC News Site Goes Cutting Edge with New Infinite Scroll

NBC News new site design

If you are a fan of the infinite scroll, you’ll love the new NBC News website that unveiled today. If infinite scrolls and content that seems to lack any organization drive you nuts, then you won’t be so impressed.

The new NBC News site homepage (pictured above) is heavy on images, light on text.  It’s tablet friendly and in the words of Deborah Turness, President of NBC News:

“The new site doesn’t feel like TV content chopped up for the web — it is actually born of a seamless collaboration between TV and digital.”

I’ll tell you another thing it feels like — more like a blog than a typical news site. NBC says it has done research  into digital news habits to come up with the new design:

“This marks the website’s first significant design change since NBC News acquired full control of its digital properties in July 2012. After becoming independent from the joint venture with Microsoft, NBC News conducted extensive research into digital and mobile news consumption habits, and then designed an innovative, mobile-first new format that caters to those needs and behaviors.”

Much of the navigation is accessed through a pull-out menu from the 3 horizontal bars up in the left corner (a la Android type nav menus you find on mobile devices).

It’s definitely a pretty site, but I’m going to be contrarian on this.  It’s great for random browsing of news and wasting time.  But for business people, if you’re busy and want to get to the news that matters to YOU, those types of designs are a nightmare to sift through.  I like a site where you can find what you’re looking for.

Maybe I’m an outlier.  But I have a feeling that a couple of years from now we’ll see site design backtracking from these “browse and scroll” types of designs.

However, if you are a general news organization catering to a wide audience, many of whom are consumers, it might be just what you want — something where people jump around to this and that news article almost randomly.

The company says it’s really about storytelling, and that the Digital News arm of NBC News is creating original content just for the site (versus reheating the TV news) and presenting it in a digital friendly way.  NBCNews.com touts its “Stories that take many forms — from standalone images, tweets, or animated gifs; to lists or one-line summaries; to fully produced articles marrying text, video, and photos.”

NBC News should get kudos for being cutting edge and delivering a site that is fast and full of eye candy.  It’s certainly entertaining.

It’s just not necessarily all that useful for those trying to find content in an organized way. 

Image: NBC News screenshot

59 Comments ▼
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Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

59 Reactions

  1. You make a great point Anita and I agree that for people who know what they’re looking for, this layout can be more frustrating than anything.

    However, since Bing Image Search came out with the infinite scroll I’ve found that it’s a good way to quickly scan for what you’re in need of. We’ll see how NBC feels about it in a few days because I’m sure they’ve got analytics to tell them how people are using it.

    • Hi Robert, Time will tell. The new design actually reminds me of the Mashable site.

      This truly is about entertainment.

      Like you say, Robert, time and analytics will tell.

      - Anita

    • lol……..analysts? I’m sure its much easier to infinetly scroll versus seeing a great table of contents of news items on one page……….are you thinking about what you write? Do you do anything else during the day other then “infinetly scroll”? lol

  2. The new web deisgn is TERRIBLE. What exactly makes it “tablet friendly”? All the gigantic pix? No, it looks like a kids toy and belongs in “Toys R Us” in the 4 to 6 year old section. It was much better before as you could at least scan 2 dozen or more headlines at a glance. Even on a tablet.

    Infinite scroll my backside. There are complaints all over the internet on this lousy thing and people are abondoning it as their home page in droves.

    Hard to believe they spend a year working on this. It looks a lot like Windows 8 tiles and, oh by the way, W8 is a failure too. Design FAIL!

  3. What a cluttered mess!!! It’s supposed to be a NEWS site. Not a game. Do other people have time to check behind those huge photos to see what articles might be available??? I certainly don’t. Off my list now. I gave up television years ago, and I’ll be giving up this site.

    • Hi Kasey,

      I totally get what you’re saying. It’s not very efficient for readers.

      The images really are bigger than they need to be.

      We’ve had a tough time balancing between size of images (to look up-to-date) and people wanting to get to the readable content. It’s like two competing pressures. But I put my foot down compared to a design that would have made our images twice as big — gigantic images are a case of “too much of a good thing.”

      - Anita

  4. I think it’s an absolute nightmare. I brought it up this morning for the 1st time (not knowing they were changing it) and it was like being woke up by brights lights and screaming kids… Just way too much “stuff” without any content.

    I’m sure they’ve done their research and the readers/watchers they are trying to reach (obviously not me!) like it; but I’ve headed over to CNN.com which is a little closer to the old NBCNEWS.com “view”.

  5. The new layout is bad enough, but the site doesn’t load in a number of popular browser/OS combinations. For example FireFox on OS X. I’ve seen Nexus users complaining, and some Safari users. I use my phone frequently to browse the news and this layout is atrocious on a mobile device, so claming “it’s tablet friendly” is just covering for BAD DESIGN. I’ve already bookmarked another news site, so goodbye nbcnews!

    • On my Nexus 10 it looks OK in the sense of displaying the way I think it was meant to.

      But it’s no less a nightmare to try to find anything. It fills the tablet screen with image-and-title, after image-and-title, in an arrangement that seems to defy logic.

      That’s my big complaint. It’s just super hard to find anything unless you “bump into it.” It’s a very bumpable site, for sure – but that’s about it. :)

      - Anita

  6. My first thought was it reminded me of a fast food menu that only shows pictures. Frankly, those tick me off too.

    I guess it is too undesirable to have too many words on a news site that is mostly articles.

  7. Silly me. I go to a news site expecting to find headlines and quick blurbs of important breaking news and ongoing national and world events. NBC has managed to turn what used to be an easy-to-read news site into a oversized-metro-tiles nightmare which seems to hold very little to no real news content. Is this a magazine now? A schizophrenic’s blog? Kids, this is what happens when you go in-house with your concepts and designs… a bunch of yes-men (and women) afraid to tell the NBC News emperor that this failure of a website has no clothes.

  8. My reaction to the new NBC News website comes via a quote from Jay Leno: “What the hell were you thinking?”

  9. My only question is if this is a result of TV/Entertainment people put in charge of news or if interns were left to design with an expressed disdain for words. It’s a picture salad with no regard for content or thought. In the spirit of Gertrude Stein…it’s random random.

  10. This is some of the worst marketing I’ve seen on a national scale. Scrolling forever and not finding what you want is a huge drawback. You need an online news page with a table of contents. If NBC News persists with this more then one or two days, I will be moving on from the MSN.COM homepage. What a tragic mistake NBC has made.

  11. It is nice to see that NBS has finally given in and has joined the rest of mainstream media in the “dumbing down” of America. I worried that my kids would grow up being able to read, think, and make decisions based on facts and reliable information from the media. With the switch to pictures and non-critical information replacing NBC News, I now have nothing to worry about. I can sleep soundly knowing that they will grow up being accepted into a society where they fit in with the sheep and be treated like the wether the media wants them to become.

  12. “Cutting edge”???? Cutting me out of my daily news fix! I have used this website for many years, too many to recall how many, but not anymore. I am unemployed and even I don’t have time to scroll, scrolll, scroll, and still not see anything. On the old page, in 3 minutes I could read all the headlines and figure out what stories I wanted to read. Now……..blech.

  13. Maybe they could get WonderWall to improve their site further, lol

  14. Who’s the Wonder Whiz at NBC in charge of online format? Lol…….2 stories per page of scroll. I really enjoy having to scroll up, scroll down, scroll up, scroll down just to look at one picture……..I mean……..it takes so long to get to the story that I must enjoy my time on each story page….scroll up, scroll down, scroll up, scroll down…..lol. Really, if I wanted to view news on my smartphone, I would.

  15. “Small Business Trends”…….lol, please forward the article and comments to Good Morning America so they can have an entertaining bit of news to bless their ratings with.

  16. I can’t wait for the ABC anchors to sit their entertaining the nation with their heads going up, and down, and up, and down as they attempt to scroll up and down and up and down trying to view their pictures. looool, should be interesting…………huge ratings boost to occur if all ABC anchors throw up after they choreograph this. lol

  17. Lol…….the NBCnews.com online programming “Whizards”…………is somebody sleeping with the CEO trying to climb the ladder at NBC???? looool

  18. I suspect this is one of the most successful marketing coups of all time………Someone at CNN/ABC/CBS/BBC/IWON news infiltrated the NBC online programing department and by intelligent design duped them into making changes thereby in one day boosting their own ratings/numbers of viewers by huge amounts.

  19. I think the point “SmallBizzTrends” is making is that you, as a small business, should not feel guilty of making huge mistakes that end your business all just because you have limited resources. Its either that or they are indirectly question business ethos that perhaps the NBC CEO actually IS screwing around with one of the programming interns………how else can you explain that the CEO didn’t walk right down to the programming department at oh, say noon today in order to flip the switch to off and bring back the old programming…………the CEO is out for a walk on the Appalachian trail?……..lol

  20. Innovative, mobile-first design??! Did any of the geniuses at NBC actually try this site on a mobile phone before going live? Slow to load; impossible to read or find anything; this is innovation? Obviously NBC entertainment is pushing heavily on the news department. “The war in Afghanistan is such a downer. Couldn’t we find a way to show a picture of Al Roker and some puppies up with the headlines of the day?” Solution; this monstrosity of a website. Il be moving on. Thanks NBC. We had a nice 10 year run, but ts over. It’s not me; it’s you.

  21. Found this article while searching for “non tablet nbc news site.” WTH???

    I used to be able to bypass the msnbc tablet version by bookmarking nbcnews.com. If anyone has the link for the original, scannable site, I’d love to have it back.

    Apparently I am old school: I, you know, READ. I don’t want videos yapping away at me. I don’t want GIGANTIC pictures. I don’t need a coloring book. I want the news and I want to be able to skim the page, choose what I want to read, and get on with my life.

    ENORMOUS fail, in my opinion.

  22. Not everyone has a pad or iphone. I hate this new design. I am frantically searching for a new news website. I would find everything at a glance and now I can’t find a thing. This is one hot mess.

    • I heard a rumor that they are bowing to site complainits, and are changing to pictures of printed words to appeal to the under 25 crowd.

  23. The new nbcnews website is terrible! I do not need to look at huge pictures all day… I use to come to nbcnews.com everyday from work now I go to cnn.com because if someone sees my computer on nbcnews.com it looks like I am goofing off and looking at some hollywood gossip site…but I am just trying to see the news headlines!
    Really bad mood…I think they will lose most their laptop and pc users…especially the older generation.
    Oh and the infinite scroll doesn’t even work on my computer…at home I use to like to also go to the Dateline section of the website…that one is the worst…its now almost impossible to easily go to the past episodes from last year

  24. Why don’t we all move to the couch, and marvel at the new USAToday/Windows 8/National Enquirer/comic book format… By the way MSN news, at least for now, has a concise readable format. I hope they don’t go to the illiterate, touchy-feely format.

  25. After many years using MSNNews as my home page, I’m moving on. I don’t want to look at pictures! I want to read yes READ the news.

  26. the old format is here: http://50.204.7.20/
    but I think they stopped updating it yesterday.
    the new format is an abortion for anyone interested in news.

  27. For the most part, I agree with everyone who has complained about the new look. It is clearly designed for smartphones and it looks much better (but unorganized) on a smart phone.

    However, it is purely awful on a desktop computer. Like someone else said, it looks like someone threw a bunch of giant pictures and equally giant text at a screen. Organization and the ability to navigate seems not to have been a consideration.

    I have switched to CNN, although I would much prefer the old NBC News site.

  28. After years of faithfully using the MSNBC, then NBC News site I’m moving on. The new format is a complete disaster – unusable as a destination for news.

  29. I reluctantly have moved my homepage to google news. If nbc news gives me the option to display the original format, I will consider returning. I directly emailed NBC but haven’t gotten a response, nor do I expect one.

  30. Anybody else remember New Coke? That idea was absolute genius compared to this change.

  31. This is by far the worst web design I have ever seen. Someone at NBC needs to loose the job over this. My vote is for Deborah Turness. There is no excuse for something so unbelievably awful.

    Not one of the thousands of comments on the NBC News Facebook page is positive. There is universal hatred for this new site.

  32. Well, one more day has passed. Instead of the NBC CEO coming down and pulling the plug on this web format failure, they are sitting around patting themselves on the backs at NBC news; according to website hits they are up over 300% in hits………little do they realize its just people re-booting computers and then signing in again to the website in utter disbelief that it is the website that is failing. lol. I wonder how they will respond in a week when they lose perhaps a good 90% of their typical website hits………..”THE SHIPS ON FIRE, THE SHIPS ON FIRE……RUN FOR YOUR LIFE”. Lol.

  33. My husband spent a very frustrating half hour yesterday trying to “fix” his computer and then found out that NBC was the culprit. He then emailed them his opinion. We both have moved on to CNN. First NBC screwed around with the Today Show – Al is the only one worth watching – now their website, next thing they will do something stupid like fire Brian Williams.

  34. MSNBC.com, subsequently nbcnews.com, was my home page for many, many years. I even stuck it out when many of their stories wound up in their Today section (I prefer news to infotainment) and when the writing and editing became worse and worse. No more. I have 15 minutes in the morning to check on the news before I get started on my work day. To spend those 15 minutes merely trying to locate breaking stories and news of importance to me and my business isnt a productive use of my time. I know how to read, I don’t need photos of each and every thing. I want news, not a comic book. I’ve switched to a local news site which isn’t as good for national news. I’ll continue looking for a news site that will give me the news I need rather than pages full of disconnected photos that mean nothing to me. Goodbye, nbcnews.com. It was nice while it lasted.

  35. Absolutely hate the new NBC design. I have spent exactly 30 seconds on it since the change. What about people who work at a desk and don’t receive their news on a tablet or mobile phone? HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT. Will find other sources for news. Pity. Always liked NBC. Can not stand this photos only site. Completely disorganized and time consuming.

  36. I stopped checking in with nbcnews.com because I was afraid NBC would interpret that as a “hit” and think the site is successful rather than a simple check to see if there was an option for the original format.

  37. For what it’s worth….

    I owned the company that did the mobile edition of 12 NBC local affiliates four years ago. In 2011, I gave up – because NBC Universal wouldn’t pay us.

    NBC Corporate is a moron factory. Period. Those that are halfway competent are fired, while others smoking something that I am seemingly in need of are promoted. This sh(t just keeps happening at NBC – year over year.

    Just look at Jay Leno…

  38. Is it possible for me to revert the “new” NBC news website back to the previous, more user-friendly site?

    If not, I become one of many who have already switched to another on-line news site: one I can READ, instead of looking at large pictures.

    I have also deleted the NBC news from my “Bookmarks.” It is too bad, because it was one of the best news sites available.

    I would really like to hear from others about what news site you are now using.

    THANKS!

  39. The longer NBC fail to recognize their error here, the worse their circumstance will become. Sometimes new ideas turn out to be bad ones. New Coke for example. The key is to recognize and rectify it quickly. NBC’s management clearly have dug in their heels on this one, refusing to even acknowledge any issue, despite being universally pilloried….on their own Facebook page, while trying to change the subject with Sochi blurbs.
    This slow bleed makes Chris Christie’s look good.

  40. This new format is an insult to my intellect.
    I am an adult. I can read. I don’t need pictures that are bigger than the content. I don’t need an “infinite scroll” to dawdle up and down on endlessly. Eye-catching images are not the way to present the news to people in general.
    Like the posters above, this looks like a children’s game.
    I have removed NBCnews.com from my bookmarks and menus.

  41. This new home page/site format is absolutely unbearable. It is ridiculous. Sophomoric. NBC News Site seems to think that changing to eye-candy, it is a way to “Speak Out”. If that is what you have to say, I prefer NBC to remain silent.

  42. Most common news or public websites are updated frequently with new web design techniques to make them different from other popular websites.

  43. This new design is total garbage and shows how out of touch Deborah Turness, President of NBC News actually is. Too much cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs I guess. WTF were you thinking? This new format was designed for who exactly? You are and will continue to lose millions of subs from this.

    I wonder how long if ever it will take them to figure this out?

  44. No one apparently did the necessary research on this one. What a mess. I changed over to USA Today. Much more readable and makes sense.

  45. A complete waste of time and bandwidth!!! Who in the world thought this crap was a good idea? Such a disheveled mess of a website! Pah-Leese!

  46. Looking for positive comments on the new NBC News website format but can’t find any. I personally love the new site. It gives me a quick fix on up to date news as well as some offbeat news that I wouldn’t find anywhere else. I give NBC News a 5 star rating on their gumption and follow through to set themselves apart from the norm. It is a refreshing look for me.

  47. OMG – have these reviewers ever been on the website? or is there another new site that I missed. This site is basically impossible and unnavigable. This is not a well thought out, cutting-edge site but a real nightmare. If it was fixed, please break it.

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