The topic of financial news covers a lot of ground. It can be related to the markets, to business, to personal matters and much else besides. That is why it is worthwhile trying to find a website that covers all this ground in one hit, rather than having to go to a dozen different websites to find what you need.
The hard part is finding that one website which has it all, but http://money.aol.com might just fit the bill. The breadth and depth of this site alone makes it worth considering, and there is certainly plenty to discover once you get stuck into finding out what is on there.
No matter what kind of financial information or news you want to know, you can be virtually guaranteed that it will be on this website. So let’s take a look in more depth to see what is there.
Starting with the home page
You could spend a half hour or more reading through the content on the home page alone, without even considering going to any other page. That is how much is included on there for you to digest.
The top stories are exactly where you would expect them to be – right in the middle of the home page. The main story will be featured here but you will also notice that there is a box displayed in the top right hand corner of this page which shows you some more of the latest financial stories. The headlines themselves are clickable to take you right into the rest of the story, but if you just hover your mouse over each one you will see a small box appear giving you the first couple of sentences of each story. It’s a neat and useful feature which gives you a little more information before you decide whether to read the story as a whole or not.
Further down the home page there is plenty more to read and digest, including a look at how the markets are doing on the day you visit the website. You will also see a comprehensive menu which is broken down into lots of sections and sub-sections, making it easy to locate the item you want. Business, investments and personal topics are all covered here.
There is also plenty of evidence to support the fact that financial news and information doesn’t always have to be the same old stuff. More down to earth and less ‘facts and figures’ type articles are included on the site; a recent example which led into the message boards explored the idea that we all buy things that are really expensive from time to time, but we look on them as a necessary treat. This makes a welcome relief from the heavier and more newsworthy stuff which makes the headlines.
There is a useful section towards the bottom of the page which reveals the best financially led headlines from a range of other well known and much revered websites. If you think of CNBC, The Motley Fool and Business Week you will be on the right track. As with the earlier section near the top of the page, hovering your mouse over each headline gives you a pop up paragraph with brief details of the story, and clicking on it takes you into the site to read it in full.
Right at the foot of the page you will see a link which takes you into the British version of the site, while there are also links to plenty of other pages and resources that the site offers. Back at the top of the page there is also the option to visit the Spanish version of the site. In fact there is so much packed into this home page that you might need a whole day to read through everything that the whole site has to offer.
What sections are there to explore?
First and foremost there is the news section. This gives you access to the top financial headlines of the moment, and further down there is also a section featuring the top headlines from Reuters, another well known news provider online. On the right hand side a little further down there are links to the most well known news providers online.
Just below the strip of data on the left hand side of the page which tells you what the markets are doing, you will see a link to the video section of the website. This contains a number of videos on varied subjects which can be watched directly through the website itself. Simply click on the tiny television screen depicting the video you want to see and it will take you to the next page, where you can watch it on a larger screen.
Some of these are sourced from elsewhere, but they are all from reliable and well known sites, and while not all of the ones in the second section are heavily related to the subject of money and finance, most of them are in one way or another.
Also on the website is a comprehensive section on investing – another side of life that many of us would like to get involved in but perhaps don’t know enough about. Again many of the items in this section are fueled by current news reports; for example an article on the site at the time of writing used the subprime problems as a spur for writing a piece on investing in property. Many of the pieces included on the site are topical in some sense, and therefore there is a lot of knowledge to be gained by reading this section on a regular basis (and in fact the same applies to every area of the website).
Also worth a look is the specials section, which lists all the special reports that the site has written over the course of the year. These are released with almost daily regularity so there is plenty to delve into here.
And then there is the business news. The main page of this section is filled with charts and data on all kinds of matters, and while this may overwhelm some people there is plenty of guidance here to make sure everyone can understand what is going on. You can also go into different areas of the markets if you wish.
A good example is the section on currencies, which is within the overall business news part of the site. There is a currency converter front and center on this page, while another box gives you the links to discover all the basics about currency and how to trade in the Forex markets. More news headlines related to currency and the latest exchange rates for the most popular currencies are also included on this page, and every other section of the markets part of the site is set up in much the same way – everything you need on a single page, without having to go backwards and forwards to find it.
If you have been looking at the site while reading this then you should have an idea of the scale of it by now. If you have yet to take a look then as you can see from this section you should definitely reserve a half day off to take a good look round. There is so much to see and do that it may take a return trip to even scratch the surface.
How user friendly is the website?
This is a huge and complex website. But with that said it isn’t actually at all difficult to find your way around. Even if you do get lost you can rely on that well thought out and executed site map to put yourself back in the right place again.
Even though all the pages contain a lot of information they don’t try to cram it all into a small amount of space. You will notice that every page has a good deal of white space on it, dividing the areas and information up efficiently and making it easy to see what is there even at a glance.
There are a few photos on the website but they aren’t at all garish in nature and they are all visually appealing. Everything about the site draws you in instead of repelling you, and that is a huge step in the right direction if you are trying to create a website that is user friendly. It certainly seems as if AOL has done everything right here, since there are really no problems or issues with this site at all. It scores highly in every area – particularly the user friendly department.
What is the single best feature?
For our money, the best section of this particular website is the very one that so many others completely ignore. If you have looked around a lot of websites which offer financial news, you will probably have noticed that the personal finance side of things tends to take second place to the business issues that so often hit the headlines first. If shares go down, the news focuses on the company involved rather than the people who hold those shares and may suffer as a result.
But the personal finance section of http://money.aol.com is huge and impressive, and while many of the stories take their lead from some of the news items that are hitting the headlines at present, many more simply relate to an area of finance or money that is of interest to a lot of people.
There is plenty to get stuck into here – firstly you will notice that there is a green tinted box in the top right hand corner which proudly offers you a number of tools to put to good use in getting your finances into shape. Perhaps the most intriguing is the huge section of calculators that are available to use free of charge. These are divided into sections and you then choose the one that is appropriate for your needs. So for example the budgeting segment includes a calculator for working out how much you would spend in bringing up a child, among others.
There is also a link to a blog called Wallet Pop, which covers all kinds of issues relating to money that you may find useful and interesting.
All in all this part of the website goes into the kind of detail and depth that you would expect from this site. You will no doubt enjoy browsing round here in between visits to the business sections mentioned elsewhere.
It can take some time browsing around http://money.aol.com to get a real idea of just how big this site is. Its size is certainly one of the reasons you should seriously consider bookmarking it with your favorites, but another reason is that it covers so much ground.
News is obviously a strong feature here and so it should be, since the stories that are happening today are the issues that will be affecting us tomorrow, so of course we should pay attention to see what is going on in the financial world.
But the website also gives us access to a wide range of stories, information, advice and evaluation that can help us all on a daily basis too. Sometimes it can be difficult picking our way through the news stories to find out exactly how they are going to affect us, and yet this is something that http://money.aol.com does exceedingly well.
Not only does it keep us up to date with events, it also educates and informs us, giving us a better view of our own futures in the financial sense. And that makes this website one of the best of its kind. No matter whether you visit it purely for the news content, or for the personal stories and information, or a mixture of both, there is no doubting that you will get a lot out of the experience – every single time.