2009 NAA study is a great resource for staffs looking to move online or redesign their site

Summer is an interesting time. It gives me a chance to catch up on things. Earlier this week I was flying home and finally had time to look at the NAA  study “Teens Know What They Want From Online News: Do you?” I found the PDF in a folder I’d labeled “*******to read” that was in a “more desktop stuff” folder which was in another folder called “Desktop.” Needless to say, it was a bit buried.

However, the 15 minutes it took me to read was well worth the time.

The study, which sampled nearly 100 students from around the country, focused on finding what makes online news most attractive to the teen audience. To be honest, a lot of what the study found was not what I had been guessing, but the rationale provided with their insights made a lot of sense.

I forwarded the study to my staff as they are working tweaking their site a bit this summer. Ironically, many of the tweaks they talked about weeks ago go against what the study says but go with a recent redesign STLtoday.com just underwent. . I’ll be interested to see what kind of discussion it sparks with them. For those staffs looking to redesign or build a site this summer I think spending a few minutes with this study will be time very well spent.

From the Study: The Survey’s 10 Key Lessons About Serving Young Audiences

1. Don’t overload them.
2. Create home pages that satisfy.
3. Entice them to keep reading.
4. Summarize stories on the home page.
5. Include visuals with anything that matters.
6. Convey what’s important with a clear visual hierarchy.
7. Beware of too much scrolling and clicking.
8. Provide background, explanation and context.
9. Break up information into manageable chunks.
10. Get rid of clutter.

You can download the study here or find out more information at the NAA website.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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