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Feb. 2, 2016, 1:32 p.m.
Mobile & Apps

The Boston Globe built an election app with one small twist to keep you glued to your phone

“We had a lot of people who enjoyed staring at it.”

As I waited for the results of the Iowa caucuses to come in last night, I found myself constantly pulling down pages on my phone to refresh them. Heaven forbid that I wait a few minutes to see whether Trump had ticked ahead of Cruz.

Then I saw this tweet:

The tool, available on desktop and mobile, offered just what I needed to stare at mindlessly. It was fast and clean, no manual refresh was required, and I wasn’t the only one who liked it.

The project, which pulled in AP data, was led by Michael Workman, the Globe’s digital design director, with a team including software engineer John Flaherty, newsroom developer Gabriel Florit, and designer Elaina Natario. “We had a lot of people who enjoyed staring at it,” Workman told me. The app built on a similar project that the Globe did in 2014 for the gubernatorial election, but “we pretty much changed everything from top to bottom,” Workman said. “One of the things we were able to do was get the reload time down to 15 seconds, from 60 in 2014. That definitely added to the engagement.”

The Republican and Democratic results pages were the two most viewed pages of the day on BostonGlobe.com.

The Globe’s social media team then used screenshots from the app to promote it:

The Globe’s tweets linking to the app pulled in about 10 times the traffic that the Globe normally gets to article pages via Twitter. “It proved out that the direction we’re heading is probably the right one,” Matt Karolian, the Globe’s social media director, said. “Given the success we’ve seen on Twitter, we’ll do some additional promotion on Facebook” ahead of the New Hampshire primaries on February 9.

“We’re scaling this up to the remaining primaries and then, obviously, the general election,” Workman said. “We’re making sure that we have a good, robust framework that will support us all the way through November.”

POSTED     Feb. 2, 2016, 1:32 p.m.
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