Quartz is a new kind of business news venture. This is our home for updates about product development, design, engineering, and life at Quartz. Email us at hi@qz.com.

Commenting platform Livefyre just launched Sidenotes, a new feature for annotating text and images. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

You may remember that we added the ability to annotate Quartz stories in August 2013. That followed similar functionality on Medium, Soundcloud, Rap Genius, and others. Our hope all along has been that even more sites would adopt annotations, introducing more people to the concept.

Livefyre is one of the largest commenting services on the web, and all of its customers can implement Sidenotes starting today. Here’s hoping that a lot of them do.

How we doubled our email sign-up rate by reducing friction

We’re proud of how the Quartz Daily Brief has grown and evolved, now publishing six days a week in three time zones around the world. And our readers seem to love it, too. But our subscriber list wasn’t growing quite as fast as we hoped, and there was one major reason why: the signup process had way too much friction.

Version 1

When we launched Quartz in 2012, we wanted to build an account framework that could handle all our future aspirations—personalization, geolocation, read-it-later, offline mode, annotations, user settings, and a variety of email subscriptions. We tossed out a lot of ideas, some of which we planned to pursue immediately and others we said we’d do later.

As we set out to build the account system, it only made sense to make creating an account a requirement for email signup. If we were going to eventually build in other functionality centered around a specific user, it made sense to have everything tied together, right? 

This is probably the way most people get to such a problem: planning so much for what you might want to build down the line that you instead make the user experience less appealing for the functionality you have available right nowIn reality, requiring accounts just slowed down the Daily Brief signup process for a lot of people, frustrated others, and turned many off from signing up entirely.

Near the end of 2013, we decided to redesign the email signup and account registration flows in an effort to make them more appealing. But it quickly became obvious that the problem was not about the aesthetics. If we wanted more email subscribers, we’d have to make it easier for people to subscribe.

Version 2

As with architecting any registration system from scratch, it’s easy to fall into the user flow trap very quickly—that is, feeling obligated to account for every possible edge case a user may find themselves in, rather than designing a few common flows simple enough that users don’t find themselves wandering off the path.

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We agreed that we would break off the email signup process from accounts entirely. Accounts would now govern our annotations product and any other features down the road that truly demand an account.

This resulted in three major changes for email signups:

  • Require only an email address for signup
  • Move from a double opt-in (requires users to click a link in an email to fully activate a subscription) to opt-out (subscriptions are automatically active unless a user reverses the action)
  • Allow for optional marketing fields that add no friction to the conversion process

The results

imageSince we rolled out the new system on February 19, our daily subscriber rate has doubled, even on weekends when activity dips considerably. Users can now sign up via “in-stream units” (pictured above) or through the Daily Brief landing page. Of the people that view that page, a full 60% of them now go on to subscribe. In the chart below, you can see the noticeable effects these small tweaks have made to our growth.

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If you aren’t already a subscriber, you can click here to now easily sign up for the Daily Brief.

Hello, India

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We just announced that Quartz is expanding our coverage of India in a big way. Here’s some from Capital and Mint, and here’s the press release…

Quartz India to launch in June 2014

The digital global business news publication expands its coverage on India
with regional content and targeted native ads

March 20, 2014—Quartz, Atlantic Media’s digital global business news brand, will launch Quartz India this June with region-specific content and targeted native ads. Quartz India, with launch sponsor GE, plans to provide both global and India-specific business news coverage.

More than 40% of Quartz’s readers are outside the US, a level that has been consistent since its launch in September 2012. India remains a top source of Quartz’s international traffic, it is a growing region for business news, and readers in the region are trending towards news consumption via digital and mobile channels. Given the small number of digitally native publications in the region, Quartz sees a strong opportunity for growth in readership.

“There is a growing business class in India that is hungry for objective coverage of the Indian business landscape and how it fits into the global economy,” says Jay Lauf, publisher of Quartz. “This growing population, like everywhere else in the world, is adopting the mobile devices and social mechanisms that give them ready access to information they need, and Quartz is built for those conditions.”

Quartz will collaborate with Scroll.in’s team of reporters and editors in India to produce region-specific content for Quartz India. It will feature business, markets, and technology news and analysis, along with access to the full content produced by Quartz’s journalists globally. Readers in India will be able to access the region-specific version of Quartz via qz.com. Quartz India content will also be available to readers outside the region through the Quartz India view.

“We saw an opportunity to serve our readers in the region even better with both our journalists around the world and an increased focus in India,” says Kevin J. Delaney, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Quartz. “It’s a mobile-first region at a critical moment in its economic history—and we’re excited to deepen the coverage available to readers on their smartphones and tablets especially.”

Quartz, launched in 2012, covers global business topics rooted in a set of defining obsessions, focusing on the new global economy and geared toward business leaders and senior decision makers across a range of industries and markets. Quartz has over 25 journalists around the world who produce quality content 24/7, and this content is optimized for access on tablets and mobile devices. Quartz surpassed five million unique visitors in the month of January and is tracking to be up more than 400% over the first quarter of 2012 in terms of advertising revenue.

GE, Quartz India’s premier launch sponsor, is known for having a focus on innovative native ad formats and content marketing as well as its commercial success in India.

“Increasingly we are partnering with top media owners to help us tell GE stories of innovation and impact around the world, through co-created content and thought leadership brought to life on engaging platforms,” said Jason Hill, GE’s director of global media strategy. “Driving familiarity about GE technology and outcomes in India is central to growing our commercial activity in that market. Our partnership with Quartz is a way to deliver those messages through a business news platform we think will achieve fast adoption.”

More information on the launch of Quartz India will be provided in the coming months.

For more information and press inquiries, please contact:

Emily Passer
Director of Communications
646-539-6614
epasser@qz.com

We’re off to a strong start in 2014

We just sent out the following press release and wanted it to share it with you…

Quartz soars in 2014

February 6, 2014 - Quartz (qz.com) reached a new traffic record, with over five million unique visitors in the month of January and revenue numbers beating expectations. This extremely rapid growth, not even 18 months after the site’s launch in 2012, continues to show the power of Quartz’s strong global business content and its embrace of the free and open web.

This quarter alone, Quartz is tracking to be up more than 400% over Q1 last year in terms of advertising revenue. Over the past year, Quartz has added more than 40 blue chip accounts to the client roster, many of whom continue to run with Quartz in the beginning of this year.

“It’s an encouraging start to the year,” says Jay Lauf, publisher of Quartz. “Readership metrics are ahead of our expectations and revenues are following that same trend line. The most encouraging figure for me is the more than 75% renewal rate we’re seeing from advertisers—our high-impact offerings are working incredibly well.”

Others in the media are praising Quartz’s innovation in the newsroom and unique ad offerings, calling it “competitive ” and “impressive”.

Mobile is Quartz’s fastest-growing segment, with 41% of unique visitors viewing the site on a tablet or mobile phone in January, according to Omniture. Quartz’s global readership continues to expand, with 44% of unique visitors coming from outside of the US.

Quartz’s unique approach to journalism has attracted a loyal audience of professionally successful, digitally native business leaders from every major industry and global region. About 60% of readers are senior executives within their organizations.

“It’s clearer than ever that readers around the world are looking for high-quality journalism tailored for reading on the devices they have near at hand,” says Kevin J. Delaney, Quartz’s co-founder and editor in chief. “Our journalists and engineers are entirely focused on delivering that—and, continuously refining their efforts, are helping define a new model for business media.”

Just last month, Quartz reached another milestone, gaining more than 50,000 subscribers to its Daily Brief email newsletter, which Nieman Lab has called “the perfect example of how Quartz prioritizes being human over being institutional.

For media Inquiries:
Emily Passer
Quartz
646.539.6614
epasser@qz.com

The Quartz Daily Brief: 50,000 strong

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Today we surpassed 50,000 subscribers to the Quartz Daily Brief, our morning email newsletter. (Above, a cake to celebrate. It tasted better than it looks.)

We put a lot of work into each Brief, so it’s been gratifying to receive such a positive response. Perhaps more important than the number of subscribers is the fact that more than 40% of all the emails we send are actually read, an open rate that’s unheard of in this business.

Thanks to all 50,000 of our subscribers. If you’re not yet among them, you can sign up for free right here. Pick your edition—Asia, Europe/Africa, Americas—for delivery in the morning wherever you live.

Our best wishes for a productive day.

New on Quartz: You can highlight our articles

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Earlier this year, we made it possible to leave annotations in the margins of Quartz. Today we’re adding the ability to highlight our text, too—and share those highlights with the rest of the world.

All you need to do is click on a paragraph to activate it. (You’ll see a grey background.) Then just click on individual sentences to highlight them in yellow; click again to undo. You can highlight as many sentences throughout the piece as you like. The URL in your browser’s address bar will update to reflect your highlights, so you can share them on Twitter, send them in an email, or just keep them to yourself.

For example, here’s a link to a Quartz article about Hershey buying a Chinese chocolatier with a few key passages highlighted.

We’re adding this feature to make Quartz more useful for you. Everyone takes away something different from our reporting, and now you can decide what’s important. We’re excited to see what you do with it.

Some technical background: Highlighting on Quartz is based partly on Emphasis, an open-source project initially developed by Michael Donohoe in 2011, when he was a developer at the New York Times. Michael is now our director of product engineering.

Quartz seeks a fall intern to cover technology and science

Quartz is looking for an intern to help us cover technology and science, starting immediately. It’s a paid gig with plenty of opportunities to write. You don’t have to be a current tech journalist, but a familiarity with how we cover the news is essential. The best candidate will be collaborative and eager to quickly and efficiently tackle assignments from editors.

Our headquarters are in New York City, but remote interns will also be considered. Part-time is OK.

Please reach out to christopher@qz.com with applications. Include clips, a CV, and a link to your Twitter account and/or website.

Thanks again to the five million people who visited Quartz in July, which was just our tenth month of operation. Now that some comparative data is available, we wanted to put that growth into perspective.

The chart above shows the last nine months of US-based traffic to Quartz, the Financial Times, and the Economist, according to comScore estimates. We are great admirers of the other news sites, and it’s an honor to have quickly found a place among them.

(It’s worth nothing that comScore-measured traffic is estimated based on a sample, so it’s usually less than what publishers record themselves. That’s true for us, so we assume it applies to our competitors, as well. The data in the chart above represent US-based traffic on desktop browsers only. In total, according to Omniture, Quartz had five million unique visitors in July, about 40% of them outside the US.)

Mashable has a story about these data, as well.

Since our launch about 10 months ago, Quartz hasn’t had a way for you to leave comments on our articles. That’s because we didn’t want to bolt an average comments section onto the bottom of each article and call it a day. In our experience, that approach doesn’t often lead to valuable discussion. Plus, we have plenty of other great ways to communicate with you—from our @qz Twitter account to our hi@qz.com inbox.

Today we’re excited to unveil our own spin on comments. We call them annotations.

Read the full product announcement here.