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New international business website puts mobile at the center of its strategy

New international business website puts mobile at the center of its strategy

Amy Webb | October 04, 2012

In September, a new business-focused website launched that's poised to disrupt the financial reporting space. It's called Quartz, and the site is a project of the Washington, D.C.-based Atlantic Media Company.

Quartz is one of the first news websites to natively function like a mobile app, and it's built using responsive design. I spoke with two of Quartz's, Zach Seward (senior editor, news innovation) and Gideon Lichfield (global news editor) to learn more about their plans for international business reporting and their innovations in news distribution.

Amy Webb: Can you describe Quartz for someone who has never heard of it before?

Gideon Lichfield: Quartz is a news website aimed at global business professionals. It's not a comprehensive news service, but one focused on the large-scale trends and seismic shifts that are happening in the global economy, business and technology. We target the internationally minded readers worldwide who are keenly conscious of the way their world is changing, want to understand where the changes are coming from, and want the information delivered to them in a digestible form, especially on the mobile devices that they increasingly use to get their news.

AW: Quartz is built using responsive design. And for someone who doesn't know, what is that, exactly?

Zach Seward: The website changes its form depending on the size of the screen you are using. If you use a desktop computer you will see the full width of the site; if you are on a smartphone or a tablet, the site will adjust to display the information in a more comfortable format so you don't have to deal with tiny text or broken pages. You won't need to download a special app or go to a special mobile site--you just point your browser to qz.com.

AW: Is your focus on content, delivery or something else?

GL: It's everything. On content, we're designing journalistic formats suited to the ways that people consume information online and especially on mobile devices, unlike traditional media, which tend to use the same formats online as they did in print. We have structured the newsroom around certain current themes, which we call our "obsessions", instead of around traditional news "beats". As regards delivery, we've already described how the website is designed to work across all platforms. And on the business side, too, there is an innovative premium advertising model, which will make us more sustainable than sites that have to churn out an enormous quantity of cheap content just to break even.

AW: How will Quartz differ from all of the other business-focused news organizations out there?

ZS: We think it's a combination of being one of the first serious news sites that has really made mobile the center of its strategy, rather than an afterthought; and not trying to cover all the news, but to focus on the news that will really help people understand the complex trends that are affecting their world.

AW: Can you talk about how your reporters focus their beats?

GL: The "obsessions" are issues that are currently having a global impact such as the euro crisis, China's economic deceleration, the development of the Web in emerging markets, and the impact of the wave of new oil and gas discoveries. Our reporters will each follow a handful of such themes, and will change them over time.

AW: Should we look forward to more innovations from Quartz early next year?

GL: Ah, that would be telling...

Amy Webb is CEO of Webbmedia Group, an international digital strategy agency that studies disruptive technologies and advises a worldwide client base of Fortune 100 and Global 1000 companies, government agencies, media organizations and foundations. She's co-founder of SparkCamp and an active startup investor and advisor. Her new book, "Data: A Love Story," will be published by Penguin and available everywhere January 31. Any opinions expressed about products or services are formed after testing, research and interviews. Neither Amy Webb nor Webbmedia Group or its employees receives any financial or other benefits from vendors.

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