It’s time to play “find the content” in Boston.com’s article template.
I check out Boston.com regularly. I don’t know why. Habit, probably.
But look at this nonsense:
See that red box? That’s where the content goes. That wee sliver of space is where the stuff that people actually want lives. The content has been pushed and prodded into a small parcel of land, wedged between ads, navigation, whatever embedded doo-dad sits within the body copy, and the world’s biggest app advertisement looming at the bottom. The content on that page should take this personally.
Here’s what that window looks like when you separate it from other stuff on the page:
That’s not a viewport. That’s a bookmark sitting sideways.
If you measure performance in pageviews, you encourage slideshows. If you measure performance by social shares, you encourage clickbait headlines and giant Like buttons. Finding a metric that lines up with a publisher’s goals is one of the most important things it can do to encourage better work … [Emphasis added]
Notice each video has a specific and properly formatted headline. No clunky ellipses. Every word carefully chosen. Even the spacing matters.
These are the subtle cues that separate excellence from mediocrity. Taken individually, these efforts don’t matter much. But put them together — all the thoughtful edits, all the care that goes into media selection, all the language — and they create the sense of professionalism that’s a hallmark of top-tier organizations.
In a wonderful piece on the limits of science, Robert Krulwich concludes with this bit of excellence:
… that’s the beauty of science: to know that you will never know everything, but you never stop wanting to, that when you learn something, for a second you feel crazy smart, and then stupid all over again as new questions come tumbling in. It’s an urge that never dies, a game that never ends.
I’d extend that line of thought to anything that’s tough, tricky, confounding, ambiguous and important: You may never get there, but you always have to try.
People are focusing on the Microsoft orbs, and for good reason: Gawking is warranted when you “lose” $313 billion.
But let’s put that aside and focus on a different part of the image.
Take a look at IBM:
2000: $209 billion
2013: $203 billion
I find IBM’s staying power far more impressive than the blobby expansion and contraction of other firms. It’s hard to build something that adapts, reinvents and perseveres across long stretches of time.
I read the Quartz Daily Brief almost every day. This is notable because I’m not all that interested in international business or politics. Yet there I am, each morning, scanning through the latest Quartz has to offer.
I appreciate the elegance of the thing. It’s a simple, well-written lineup that starts with the important stuff and concludes with a handful of weird/interesting/notable links that I often have yet to encounter. The tone of the email is smart, but not off-putting, funny, but not snarky. And it has never — not once — been twee.
After reading this case study, I appreciate the Daily Brief even more. Turns out Quartz produces three editions every day, each timed to serve a particular part of the globe at precisely 6 am.
Quartz senior editor Zach Seward explains how it all comes together:
“Typically, one of our reporters in the United States—it’s a different writer each week—pulls together the first draft of the email in the afternoon on, say, Tuesday. That’s edited in the U.S. as well, and sent to our readers in Asia, where it’s already Wednesday morning. (We aim to hit inboxes by 6 am in Hong Kong, London, and New York, respectively.) About six hours later, reporters and editors in Asia update the email to reflect any new information and send out the Europe edition. Finally, the Americas edition is sent from Asia or Europe about 12 hours after the whole process began in the U.S. It’s a lot of work, but our readers seem to think it’s worth the effort, which is all that matters.”
Christian Rudder, a co-founder and general manager of OkCupid, said that when his dating site recently bought and redesigned a smaller site, they witnessed not just a sharp decline in bots, but also a sudden 15 percent drop in use of the new site by real people. This decrease in traffic occurred, he maintains, because the flirtatious messages and automated “likes” that bots had been posting to members’ pages had imbued the former site with a false sense of intimacy and activity. “Love was in the air,” Mr. Rudder said. “Robot love.” Mr. Rudder added that his programmers are seeking to design their own bots that will flirt with invader bots, courting them into a special room, “a purgatory of sorts,” to talk to one another rather than fooling the humans.