We designed Quartz, Atlantic Media’s business news site, to be read on tablet devices. We then adapted the design for mobile, and finally designed it for desktop. That process leading up to Quartz’s September 2012 launch is the opposite from traditional media organizations, which retrofit their desktop sites for mobile and tablet usage. And it resulted in a groundbreaking design for what’s become one of the fastest-growing news sites. Quartz’s site has been analyzed, praised, and overtly copied so much since that some media and design executives talking about “Quartz-ing" their offerings. Quartz was created by a group of digital news veterans who threw out the conventions of traditional news sites. Among them: crummy, unloved “right rails," endless thumbnail images, and dead-end article pages. Our goal was to create an interface that was native to mobile and tablet and be designed for user efficiency. Quartz’s founders invented a radically simplified structure for a news app, with a list of scrollable headlines alongside an ever-present content well, featuring blowout photography and infinite scroll. The overall texture evokes global, digital, news and luxury attributes. The HTML5 site is fully responsive, adjusting for whatever device a user is on. Quartz’s navigation, content and advertising are meant to be touched. Also, editors tailor charts and animations on the site to work well on mobile. Quartz’s web app is free and has helped turbocharge users’ sharing of content via social media. There are no app store download required and no other friction to hold back sharing or easy access to content that has been shared. The responsive, open technology approach has yielded results: more than 40% of readers access Quartz from mobile and tablet devices, and the vast majority of traffic comes from readers clicking on article links found via social media, search and other websites. Users read multiple articles each time they access the site, generating well above the industry average pageviews per visit. We’ve improved the look and feel of Quartz since its launch, redesigning part of the site before we even finished our first year. We made nearly 150 code change pushes to the web app since its launch about 17 months ago. This summer, we added our own spin on commenting, allowing readers to annotate individual paragraphs in the margins. The average duration of a visit to the web app has gone up over the past year, even as the readership has gone from under one million unique visitors per month to an average over five million in January 2014. Quartz’s web app has pushed the boundaries for what media organizations are doing online, and has served as a model for the industry since its launch. Quartz’s design has broken conventions, prioritizing efficient delivery of content for readers and abandoning elements such as right rails with miscellaneous headlines and ads that users are effectively being trained to ignore. Quartz’s use of responsive HTML5 technology to provide a native-app-like experience has been cutting edge. This approach has helped minimize the friction for social sharing of articles, and enabled dramatic growth in traffic over a short time. Quartz has continuously updated its web app to improve the speed and interface for users. Thank you for considering Quartz’s HTML5 web app, which is accessible by going to qz.com on any tablet or mobile device, for a Shorty Award for Best Mobile App.
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