A multi-platform study of digital editions published by Britain's top newspapers has placed UK smutty tabloid The Sun firmly at the bottom of heap.
The red-top rag scored a miserable two points out of a possible five according to the report which pitted ten of the UK's favourite dailies against each other and scored them on the their web and mobile sites as will as iPhone and iPad apps.
Particular attention was paid to cross-platform compatibility where the Currant Bun came under fire for “poor utilisation of the platforms and low usability in particular for its iPad app and mobile site”.
The report said the difference between the Sin's off-line and online experience on its iPad app was particularly bad, with the off-line version looking like little more than a badly scanned facsimile of the print version.
The study used a series of guidelines to rank the cross-platform compatibility of the apps and sites. These said that content should be optimised for the specific platform and should be viewable without zooming, buttons should be large enough to be used on smaller devices, and should work well with multi-touch gestures like pinch and zoom.
Products were marked up for having comprehensive content including in-depth analysis, blogs and comments, as well as the inclusion of multi-media like videos and podcasts.
They were also judged on ease of navigation, whether their internal search engines delivered decent results and how easy it was to leave comments, share content on social networking sites or customise the user experience.
Design of the offerings also came under scrutiny with clear layout, a good balance between text and images and unobtrusive advertising all scoring highly.
The scores were averaged out across the board because not every publication has iPad and iPhone apps, but the Sun - Britain's biggest-selling newspaper - still came bottom with a score of 2.0. The Guardian topped the study with a score of 3.9.
Interestingly, the iPhone apps received the highest average score among the four platforms included in the report. "One of the strengths with the iPhone apps is the common design conventions, which users have become familiar with over the years. We expect similar conventions will develop for the iPad over time, and it will be interesting to follow in the coming years," said the study (PDF).