Paywalls need usability improvements

A while back I stated that paywalls aren’t bad. But they are downright annoying when it comes to sharing articles. It breaks the whole flow of the sharing economy – I like to tweet links to things that I find of interest, and when the other party can’t view it, it surely gets quite annoying.

Paywalls also start imposing IP inspection. Malaysiakini has done this and you are forced to re-login regularly. Its very annoying as it breaks the flow again and you’re now logging in, then being redirected. So it works like this: click on article, see logged out screen, click on login, then be re-directed to the article. By this time I’ve lost interest in reading.

Newspapers are read by a whole household. I know of offices reading a single newspaper. Heck, in the clubs that I frequent, probably a hundred people read the same newspaper in the sauna. Paywalls should ensure that the household is taken care of. 

What about the modern concept of a household? Father and mother living in the Philippines, daughter working in Malaysia and son working in Dubai? Isn’t this still a household? Paywalls like those for the FT/NYTimes seem to understand this (or are not taking action at the moment), but the Malaysiakini paywall slaps you with the crappy user interface above.

I want online media to succeed but broken paywalls aren’t going to cut it.

On my to-subscribe list is BizKini, which brings a Malaysiakini subscription to a ringgit a day. This is basically the same price you’ll pay for a newspaper in print! Is their reporting that much better that its worth all the pain of the above? I’m not so sure.

So besides a broken login UI, how does one improve sharing?