Boston.com is changing its YourTown local pages. Do you like the changes?

In 2008, Boston.com launched locally-focused YourTown pages for specific Boston neighborhoods and surrounding cities and towns.

They are now redesigning the pages, one by one, in a manner that de-emphasizes Boston.com and Globe content in favor of links to external news sources and tweets. All of the Boston neighborhood pages are still in the old format, but many of the surrounding cities and suburbs have been converted.

What's your opinion of the changes? Here are some 'old' and 'new' pages to compare:

Old: Arlington, Concord, Newton, Roslindale, Waltham

New: Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Lexington

Once we've collected sufficient comments here, I'm going to point David Dahl of the Globe at this post. He is in charge of both the existing YourTown pages and the ongoing redesign.

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    Comments

    Meh

    Very little content immediately viewable on the new pages. Even less so when viewed on smart phone.

    Old pages are cluttered, but content is generally locally significant. New pages are sparse, and have a lot more ad-twits, shallow info and non-local stories.

    New site apparently makes no distinction between rapidly updated twitters and deeper, more significant articles (which really should be given different pieces of real estate on the screen). Deep info is pushed out of sight by shallow info. Blech.

    I prefer the old design

    The previous design is more usable, in my opinion. While including tweets and other information is valuable, I'd rather it not be intermingled with more structured news content. The previous design is easier to scan for the most important content and feels better curated. I also like the "Things to Do in ..." calendar feature on the old design.

    I do not like these changes at all

    I agree with the others. There's not enough content, and for some reason, the page doesn't load quickly. There's probably a lot more scripts running in the background.

    Therefore, if you have an old computer and can't afford to buy a new one, it becomes a real hassle to click on the tweets because their links take forever to load. One should not have to click and click and click to get a tidbit of information.

    If Boston.com wants to add tweets as a supplement to the old pages, fine. But don't clutter the page with useless scripts and don't force us to click on people's tweets.

    Not Good

    Too much Twitter nonsense and apparently less local news. Huge disappointment. Discussion forum has seemingly disappeared, too. Are they trying to drive people to their local Patch.com? If so, job well done Globe.

    Finally vindicated!

    I'm so happy to see others share my dislike of putting social media streams right in the middle of other content. Certainly have links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, but let people decide if they will follow them or not.

    Also, to make a long story short, the old design wasn't that great but it's better than the new one.

    Not good

    Too much Twitter nonsense and now apparently less news. The discussion forum has seemingly disappeared, too. Are they trying to drive people to their local Patch.com site??. If so, job well done Globe.

    In two words...

    Absolutely useless.

    Too much advertising and self-promoting Twitter feeds.

    I can't find *anything* of local relevance that isn't an ad.

    Neither the headlines nor the brief introductory sentences offer enough info to make me want to decide to click on the link for more info.

    With the old version the introductory sentences was exactly that, a complete thought. With the new version it stops in the middle of the sentence and the middle of the thought, so you often don't even know what they're talking about.

    The whole thing looks like it's put together by an automaton, probably because it is. I doubt if a human eye ever looks at anything to check for errors or relevance.

    And the graphic design is unappealing to boot.

    I won't bother looking at it again.

    Utter crap

    The day this change comes to my town is the last day I go there. I can customize my own Twitter feed to serve up local news. I Clinton the Globe to have a few people rather than robots, people who can dig for the story that isn't in Twitter. Good thing Universalhub still does it right.

    I'll preface this by saying I

    I'll preface this by saying I stopped reading the Globe's digital properties a few months before -- and for reasons unrelated to -- the paywall. It has to do with their inability to:

    • grasp the user experience (and/or inability to design something that doesn't reek with CLICK ME PLEA$E desperation)
    • design something that doesn't look like 2003
    • design with tools that don't cripple my operating system with their hogging of system resources
    • stop trying to compete with Nick Denton or that stupid Greek lady who bought AOL

    YourTown is a joke. A late April Fool joke, perhaps? Hopefully?

    On the other hand, there's no snowplow games on the front page. Perhaps we celebrate this as progress for Morressy Blvd.

    How is the boston.com brand better by having curators "produce" content (and by content, I mean, links)? Are they really so financially strapped they must scrape other sites for "news"?

    Speaking of news, whatever happened to like, actual fucking news? The Brookline page is a giant bank ad, then a picture of Walgreens (?!), something about a leaf blower, and a bunch of shitty retweets. What? There's nothing going on in Brookline except for Brookline PD's admonition on leaf blowers?!

    That story would be relevance to my interwebz if I were retire to sit in slippers of a bathrobe for home yell yell yell YOU DAMN KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN. ::shakes fist::

    Good grief. I'll try to finish real quick, before the low men in yellow coats come take me away ...

    Until late 2010, I was on their reader panels, routinely did focus surveys, and even was invited down to headquarters to give feedback on boston.com's redesign. The things I liked, never made the cut. The things I hated, they did twice as big/bad/much as what I reacted to in the demo layout.

    For the record, it was on this trip that I knew they were doomed: the test layout I saw was a PRINTED OUT version of the website rendered in ... Pagemaker? and taped together ... they didn't even have a proper render on a test platform to play with! How could I tell them about my internet user experience from looking at a piece of paper!? !?! ?!?! ?! !? !? !? !? !

    HERE MISTER NAVY PILOT, HOW DO YOU THINK THIS PLANE WILL FLY BASED ON A LOVELY PICTURE OF AN EJECTOR SEAT?!

    Perhaps the Boston Globe is a (dysfunctional) sandbox for NYTCO. That's fine, BUT I wish they'd say so up front. If that's not the case, I can't figure out what the problem is?

    No leadership? Too many Oldes? Too many Youngs with "ADHD" or something retarded* like that?

    No publisher to keep a consistent voice across the digital properties (and aligning with the folks working the dead-tree edition)? A wrong-headed focus on monetizing the online experience in order to increase pageviews for another quarter of positive growth and maximum ROI?

    (So many dirty-sexy-hot corporate words. I need a cigarette!)

    In the meantime, I now get Boston news from UHub, Reddit, Boston Busi Journal, select Twitter feeds (@BostonTweet, etc.), and local rags like the Courant, etc. I find Twitter and the like to be more timely for breaking news, and "next day" stories from the smaller outfits to be much more comprehensive.

    The Boston Globe and it's inbred digital properties are trying to be everything, to everyone. Stop it.

    If anyone from the Globe/NYTCO would like to talk further -- I'm actually quite a reasonable, if jaded, personality -- I have a gmail account with this username.

    This is boring. I'm bored now. - Jack Donaghy

    - riggssm

    * Note: Yup. I went there. Suck it, retard-haters.

    Older than 2008, that was just the last redesign

    Boston.com started yourtown in 1999 http://web.archive.org/web/20000815060333/http://w...

    Back then, it was mostly scanning news stories, death notices, etc for the the name of a town and presenting a index page of the results.

    Then in 2003, they turned it into a section with stats on each town (population, tax rates, MCAS scores, etc)

    In 2005 the moved it to the real estate section, and added real estate related stories back in.

    The 2008 redesign tried to start off small and gain a critical mass of community and news before launching a town page. (one sad part of the 1999 version was when your town was so boring its "yourtown" page had an empty newswell.). I guess the idea of the 2008 version is that user generated content is cheap.

    This current redesign seems to be trying to merge Globe content with blogs, twitter, etc. I guess if you can't convince your users to create content for you, find where they are creating content and link to it. Once they expand this out to more towns and neighborhoods, you'll find out which towns are *really* boring when they have not only no Globe news, but also nothing Boston.com can crawl for around the web.

    No

    The new layout is absolutely useless and atrocious. I'm an avid twitter user, however when I want to read the news, I want to actually read the news, not twitter. The new site is far too sparse and dumbed down. If it stays like this, I'll stick to getting my news from twitter alone and will stop going to these pages altogether.

    Sad, Sad, Sad

    Boston.com is no longer a news source with any credibility, usability, or relevance. It is inferior, in its present changed form (which, by the way, was launched without warning), to a scarred, unpainted bulletin board in the dodgy part of a town, littered with crap and worse.

    How incredibly insulting to the "towns" of Your Towns. We're not even worth covering anymore, apparently.

    I believe it's actually an attempt to scuttle local news coverage by the Globe and kill Boston.com off. Patch (no great shakes either, but better than the Globe now) will benefit, surely.