December 26, 2005

Does Usability Change with Events?

The New York Times reports today that during last week’s transit strike, the New York City news site displayed a “stark black-and-white page with basic blue headline links” rather than its usual flashy graphics. Folks at NY1 say they streamlined their site to help site visitors get information quickly (hits increased from an average 30,000 to 100,000 during the strike). The Times suggests that NY1 stripped it down to prevent potential load problems — odd, they argue, since the site is owned by cable Internet provider Time Warner which should have the bandwidth to handle anything.

Either way, it’s an interesting approach to a crisis: make an important web site more usable. Then again, why not make the site more usable ALL THE TIME?! [sigh]

When News Breaks, Flashy Content Loses Out
New York Times, December 26, 2005
Visitors to seeking news about the city's transit
strike found a stripped-down design featuring basic blue
headline links and no photos.

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