TVNZ finally revamps website

, posted: 11-Dec-2008 16:17

Our state broadcaster has had a quite awful website for too long now. The old site did its best to hide some really good material, so it's good to see a shiny new one replacing it that has a clean layout that actually makes you want to spend time on

TVNZ Home Page

The News tab is selected by default, with stories and pictures being swapped under the different headings like National and World - it looks pretty good overall, and feels easy to navigate.

TVNZ wants user-generated content (awful term that) and has put up a Your Cam section to which people can contribute pictures and video. It'll be interesting to see how that develops, bearing in mind that some people are fond of playing around with Photoshop and video editing software for the fun of it.

Speaking of videos, they're in Flash and Windows Media format. There are three quality settings for the former - the lowest one being nigh impossible to watch - and two for the latter. The quality of the clips seem to vary greatly, with some showing a very blocky Simon Dallow even at the highest setting. Unfortunately, you can't embed the clips in e.g. blogs, so I can't show you what I mean about the quality.

Social media and bookmarking buttons have been implemented too for the major sites, which is great but no comments on the stories seems an omission. There are RSS feeds, a Vista Sidebar headlines gadget that crashed when I tried to run it, a mobile-optimised version, emailed news, and podcasts. All in all, a great deal of work has gone into the site to make it as accessible as possible through different devices and formats.

However, the Tech Section could do with a tidy-up. There's no need to repeat the "Headlines" heading eight times on that page; just once or something like "This Week's Headlines" would be cleaner. Actually, the Headlines repetition thing seems to be in all the sections, and not just the Technology one. A little bit more text in the excerpts for the stories would be nice as well.

And please TVNZ... commission more local stories from local journos instead of filling the site with the usual Reuters rootarola wirecopy that everyone else carries. And, I mean good solid news and analysis, and not the usual opinion swamp that passes for journalism these days.

Technically, it looks like the site is mainly Open Source Software, running Apache Cocoon + Coyote and Squid. It's certainly fast and much quicker to load than the previous site. I would love to see TVNZ's CMS actually: a site without a CMS that makes it quick and easy to publish material isn't much good, no matter how nice it looks.

Last time I spoke to TVNZ they were wondering what could be done to attract viewers to its news sections. Well, the latest Nielsen stats show that TVNZ is doing fairly well but is far behind competitors Stuff and NZ Herald in the numbers game. With more locally produced and personal material, TVNZ should be able to haul in at least some of the lead of the others.

Speaking of revamps, the competition isn't standing still: Fairfax says it'll freshen up Stuff soon which will put pressure on APN to do the same for the Herald... and TVNZ.

Nielsen Netratings Market Int

Update As pointed out on Twitter, where are the HD videos?

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