Quartz steps it up in digital news, design wise

The last thing this world needs is another news resource. That is, unless it’s specifically built with mobile-devices in mind, which “embodies the era in which it is being created.” Quartz does just that.

Quartz is a rather new option for getting a broad range of reliable news. It’s a completely digitally derived service which presents news to you in an extremely minimal and effective manner. They also pride themselves on being transparent their operation, which is something every outlet should strive for; open-source code & open data behind their articles.

Design

Lately, news corporations have begun to sincerely realize that their digital presence is not the same as their physical, paper counterparts. When you design for digital, it’s a completely different playing field. As of lately, USA Today seems to have made the biggest impact. Their latest overhaul takes care of the needs of traditional readers, while also taking care of their application-oriented mobile base. One aspect that truly ties both iterations together, though, is that the color coded sections allow for consistency of topic organization throughout both iterations, despite the layouts being nothing alike.

Being Quartz on the other-hand is completely digital from the ground up, they’re capable of creating a much more intuitive UI for getting quality news to their readers, as well as allowing individuals to share articles they connect with or wish to speak out about. They approached the idea of a purely digital concept with first, the iPad. Once they had the design they wanted, they worked on the iPhone iteration, followed by the desktop version.

The UI is one that every iPad owner is familiar with, as it utilizes the vertical scrolling based around a responsive column design. This is a standard UI that even built-in aspects of iOS has the, such as the Settings or Mail app. This allows for the navigation to take up minimal space while letting your content reign supreme with every pixel.

On the left-hand column, Quartz has the top-level navigation which allows you to select between options such as “Popular,” “Latest,” and “Top” news. Just to the right of that, you have a navigation column which provides the title and a short summary of the various articles available. The selected article will be displayed in the right-hand column, which is the most prominent on your display, regardless of the device you’re using.

There is also top-oriented navigation, which consists of various topics to choose from, such as sports, technology, and also trending topics such as “Euro Crunch.” I do wish they would take a note from USA Today and color code some of the permanent topics to allow users to know with a simple glance, what they’re selecting. It may be in their future, though, being they are extremely young in their online presence.

The typography is also extremely well done. They use Adelle Sans for the headers, which grabs your attention, but not in an in-your-face manner; strong, yet subtle. The body text is Georgia which makes reading decent chunks of text easy on the eyes, even on a back-lit display.

Functionality

The functionality of this app is quite present in the UI, but as far as back-end things go, it’s just a teeny-tiny bit on the slow-side. On my school’s extremely fast wireless, Quartz takes a bit of time to appear on my iPad’s screen. I’ve tried multiple locations, including the wireless at my parents home and it seems to be consistent. Also, while navigating, it will occasionally glitch causing a flicker of the screen. It’s nothing detrimental by any means, but something I noticed nonetheless. I’m sure they’ll fix it up in the future as they tweak the back-end a bit more.

When it comes to the functionality of reading articles, its perfect. The UI enables you to breeze through the navigation and get to whatever article catches your eye. The scrolling works as well as a native iOS app, making for a smooth reading experience. Also, once you scroll to the end of your current article, it brings up the next one just below.

Quartz also allows for ‘favoriting’ articles and the sharing of articles via social media. Each post has a button along the right-hand side allowing for you to choose the platform of your choice to share the article with.

Another small tidbit that fits under functionality is the URL. It’s simply “qz.com.” While it may just seem like a novelty, it’s actually quite brilliant for a web app. Statistically speaking, the fewer steps it take someone to reach their destination, the more likely they are to use that method rather than an alternative.

Conclusion

Overall, the entire team has done an incredible job putting their service together. The writing is top-notch and the implementation is wonderfully done. By narrowing their focus on the devices it’s going to be used on, they can spend less time worrying about compatibility and spend more time creating content and making their current service look and operate more efficiently.

If you haven’t given Quartz a look, I sincerely suggest heading over now. Have you used it? If so I’d love to hear some feedback on what your opinion is on the overall experience, or even just a single aspect. I always strive to reply to your feedback!

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