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I've 15 years of experience in media product & technology. By day, I work at a mainstream news site. Prior to this, I was a Knight Fellow with ICFJ.org and have co-founded two companies. All views expressed here are my personal opinions.
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I've 15 years of experience in media product & technology. By day, I work at a mainstream news site. Prior to this, I was a Knight Fellow with ICFJ.org and have co-founded two companies. All views expressed here are my personal opinions.

Why ad-driven news products look like e-commerce sites

Published May 25, 2021
Updated Nov 28, 2021

Most news sites were built in the advertisement economy. Every decision optimizes for driving page views.

Hence, the design of the news homepage (and landing pages) was similar to that of e-commerce pages. Click-bait headlines and photos would attract users and get them to click, giving the content site a “page view.”

Let’s call this user experience the shopping experience. The shopping experience landing page will have the broadest sample of inventory/stories laid one below the other and forces users to click to another page.

Below are two screen grabs: One from Amazon and another from a news site, and you will get the idea.

In a recent tweet thread, Professor Damon Kiesow argues that this UX is bad for journalism’s civic role.

In the next post, we discuss what happens to the user experience once the business model switches to subscription.