The Brief, a tailored summary of business and international news under the rubric of “Your world right now.”
The article talks about the redesign of a news site, Quartz, in which they added a homepage to their site. Till date Quartz did not have a homepage, but they did have an email newsletter that was their main source of reader retention. Their other means was to target social media. Like a lot of other sites, Quartz has depended on quality content and focussed social media campaigns to drive readers to their site.
I’ve been reading Quartz since some time now. I probably discovered it via twitter or perhaps through WordPress.com’s post streams, which is the platform Quartz is based on. I have often headed to qz.com and till date, I was received by an infinite scroll of articles, one after the other, simply flowing through. This was at times, irritating and at others, helpful. But it was a homepage none-the-less. The new homepage is a lot more traditional. It’s called “The Brief” and focusses on short snippets about top stories. Users can then click through and will again be at the doorstep of that infinite scroll. Other headlines on The Brief are actually short notes, where Qz has linked to news stories from other sources and given you a quick overview to read and share.
The redesign is nice because of design reasons – bigger pictures, more space, less clutter. But here’s something important. The Neimanlab article quotes Qz senior editor Zach Seward as saying that it’s essentially “a chicken-and-egg scenario”. If you build a homepage, people will see it. If you don’t, they don’t. For news sites, a homepage is an essential tool. Throw in some of the important stories of the day and latch on some other stories that you want to push and users will spend a lot more time on your site. There’s an analogy here. Instagram has been a mobile only app for the longest time. They believed that there was no need for a website simply because they were growing at breakneck speed even without one. Yet, the biggest complaint they probably ever received was the lack of a desktop environment and this spawned a host of sites like webstagram. Now, Instagram has an official desktop site, but it still defers you to the mobile app for things such as opening accounts, user management and photo uploads.
The Neimanlab article states that Quartz was receiving 90% visitors through article pages (from their newsletter or social media) and only 10% from qz.com directly (I’m part of that 10%). Yet, this shift shows that they too recognize the need for a homepage from where the casual user can easily find more things to read and the dedicated reader can keep track of headlines. Whenever I go to Qz.com, I’m logged into my wp.com account. Who knows, maybe in the future, they can use my login to tailor posts to my interests and maybe even mark news items as Read/Unread for me. Whatever the future may be, the rubric of Quartz is getting more attention by the day because of quality journalism and excellent design.
BONUS Word: sybaws (“smart young bored-at-work”) source