No doubt the best coding brains at the New York Times Co. are focused on iPad development these days. But as a paid subscriber to the Reader editions of the New York Times and the Boston Globe, I have a few suggestions for how they could be better. I’d want to see these ideas incorporated into the iPad app as well, so please consider this a two-fer:
1. A front-page image of the print edition should be included, just as it is on the papers’ websites. We Reader readers, to coin a phrase, exist in a sort of electronic halfway house: we still read the paper as the paper, but we don’t mind giving up ink on dead trees. So we, of all customers, want to get a sense of what the front looks like.
2. The Reader organizational scheme should be as clear and easy-to-follow as the simple list format the papers use on their websites for that day’s edition (Globe here; Times here). Yes, I can skim through every Reader story very quickly, but sometimes I’d like to select a section front, then pick and choose.
3. Mega-dittoes for the Globe’s “g” section, which is just a mess in Reader. Way too many short items are just thrown up there. It needs a complete rethink.
4. Folks at the Globe need to take photos more seriously when putting together the Reader edition. There are too many instances of context-free pictures with no captions.
5. Reader editions should always link to multimedia extras such as videos. I know of a few occasions when I’ve found out hours after reading the paper that I missed on a terrific video.
My fear is that the Reader platform hasn’t attracted enough users to make further development worthwhile. I almost never see an ad other than a house ad, for instance. I still think it’s a promising idea, though, and perhaps development can take place in parallel with the iPad.