To give visitors another way to view the news, USA Today has introduced a site it calls Newsdeck that compiles the top headlines in an easy-to-read format. Users can scroll through stories in eight categories, including News, Money and Sports, with the ability to switch back and forth between the latest news and the most popular articles.
Newsdeck, although colorful, is very straightforward, displaying just the headlines in a minimum amount of space. Skimmer, on the other hand, gives a much more visual presentation and includes some pictures. The NYT tool also offers more news categories, and presents tabs for browsing the site's blogs and a list of the top news topics, such as Barack Obama or swine flu.
Another discrepancy is that NYT keeps the Skimmer toolbar on the screen when a visitor clicks on an article link, allowing for easy navigation within the browsing tool. In contrast, Newsdeck forces readers away from the page in order to view an article; returning to Newsdeck requires users to click the browser's back button.
The USA Today auto scroll feature can be particularly annoying, as it tends to run through the articles fairly quickly and makes it difficult to actually click on links.
Taking these differences into account, USA Today and NYT clearly have different aims for these web features. Skimmer was designed to remind readers of flipping through the newspaper on a Sunday afternoon. Newsdeck's goal is to let visitors sort through the most important articles with a quick glance, which it certainly accomplishes.