Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Can Facebook beat back the fake news in Ireland’s upcoming vote on abortion?
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 26, 2012, 9:41 a.m.
LINK: www.newyorker.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   March 26, 2012

Lauren Collins has a great piece in this week’s New Yorker on the outsized success of the Daily Mail, which has built the biggest online audience of any newspaper in the world. There’s a section about 80 percent into the story on their web strategy:

The site evolved on the fly. “We just decided to go hell-for-leather for ratings,” someone who was involved in the launch told me. “Anything relating to climate change, American politics, Muslims — we just chased the numbers very ruthlessly.” Traffic, at home and abroad, began to climb. By the summer of 2007, Mail Online’s traffic had risen a hundred and sixty-two per cent, to make it the U.K.’s second-largest newspaper Web site. The Drudge Report started linking to some of its stories. In 2010, it became the U.K.’s biggest newspaper Web site.

[Mail Online editor Martin Clarke] and his staff built the site by instinct. “I didn’t look at that many Web sites for design ideas,” he told me. Formally, they stuck with what they knew, developing a publishing system that allows them to put together the home page with the glue-pot flexibility of a newspaper, rather than having to slot stories into a template. The home page is hectic, with hundreds of stories competing for the reader’s attention. It is unusually long—literally, like a scroll—as are its headlines. (Both tactics help to bolster its search-engine rankings.) It uses far more pictures, and in larger sizes, than its competitors. “The site breaks all so-called ‘usability rules,'” Clarke said. “It’s user-friendly for normal people, not for Internet fanatics.”

Clarke also responds to criticisms of the Mail’s aggregation practices.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Can Facebook beat back the fake news in Ireland’s upcoming vote on abortion?
Plus: What people who like fact-checking are like, a new “digital deception” newsletter, and Facebook expands its fact-checking partnerships beyond the West.
R Vision, a digital news outlet by and for Rohingya people, aims to shed light on crisis
R Vision is run entirely by an ethnic Rohingya staff of about 25 and uses local citizen journalists to get news out from areas where media is denied access.
Should you design for addiction or for loyalty?
That depends on whether you want users or an audience.