(Before I begin, it seems like they’ve kept most of the links the same – good thinking there!)
The main page sets the tone for the entire site – it’s far cleaner looking than before with a pretty logical layout. The news, sport and entertainment RSS feeds are also available right from the index page, which is pretty nice, as is an imbeded video with some of the latest RTÃ‰ News (it’s still realplayer, though!)
The News section is greatly improved in my opinion – the links on the left are made far more logical (although the archive seems non-existent at present) and there are very simple navigation links to the broadcaster’s main news programming (like Questions and Answers, Prime Time etc.) as well as features such as their current focus on road safety. Interestingly they seem to have ditched the old news dividers (home news, international news, business*, nuacht**) and instead have the main stories of the day in one page – the Full News Index seems to expand on this a bit too.
Within the actual news stories there seems to be far more options for related video/audio, and guess what? It now opens up in a new window, so you don’t have to download RealPlayer streaming files to watch them anymore! But on the negative side, it’s still RealPlayer.
* Business actually has its own section completely independent from News, more than before. It also has plenty of unique links on the left guiding to Business shows, information on the Economy, share listings etc.
** If I remember correctly the Nuacht page of old was only a link to the latest edition of an Nuacht from RTE One – there’s still a link to this in the Programmes box on the right.
The TV and Radio sections seem to have benefited the most from the update – the main radio page is much friendlier, with information on the more popular shows followed by links to the various RTE stations. ‘Listen live’ and podcasts links are featured quite prominently – with a pretty comprehensive list of subscriber feeds for each of their available podcasts. In general, like News, things seems to be far more logical than before.
Taking a quick look at one of the TV pages – Prime Time – things are again vastly improved. Where before the list of previous episodes would feature very scant information in a pretty dull list (one after another) the layout has now improved drastically. The latest episode is featured heavily at the top, with a section below listing the last few episodes across two columns… far easier on the eye. There’s also a calender there to easily get to a particular episode if you know what you’re looking for.
On the main TV page some of the previous issues are resolved – like that stupidly long list of RTÃ‰ shows that used to feature everything they’ve ever made has now been transformed into a much handier list of current shows (although I hope they’ve kept their old show’s sites somewhere!)
Overall there are a few problems – the banner ad on the far right on each page is stupid, a complete waste of space in my mind. I’m also not sure if I like the big, constantly changing image on the main page and TV page – seems like a bit of a waste of space to me too. The shop also needs to be updated still… Oh, and did I mention the fact that the video and audio is still RealPlayer only?
Overall, huge improvement though – as always when compared to sites like BBC.co.uk it pales in comparison, but it’s never completely fair to hold those two unequals against each other.
Well done to those at RTÃ‰ Interactive – a great redesign in general, at least that’s what I see from my very, very quick look at what you’ve done.
I hope the site will now evolve continuously rather than me having to wait another X amount of years to see any further change. It certainly seems to be a bit more dynamic than before – the last site was quite static with the odd image changing every now and again (with only the news section getting updated on anything close to a regular basis). And can we hope for blogs, like an RTÃ‰ Editors blog?!!!!