A collection of notes & ideas from the Quartz Engineering team
Things are quiet. And by that I mean nothing is on fire. The frontend is solid, the annotation service is running, and the team has turned their attention to features within the annotation admin tools.
The launch of annotations has been something I’ve been personally excited about for a long time. Long before we even knew what the name (or domain) of our new “global business news” venture would be, Zach and I were discussing annotations in an unfurnished SoHo office.
Our original plan was to leverage Twitter as the platform - it was one way to put a stake in the open-web, and take advantage of a rich-user base and integrate it seamlessly throughout Quartz.
There were a couple of reasons we didn’t go that way. 140 characters was one. We felt we could work with that for all the other natural benefits, but then Twitter announced more restrictive API changes back in August 2012. So we moved on, both with the actual non-existent web site and the idea of annotations.
The hope was to launch with Annotations ready to go from day-one. The original mockups and designs all reflect this.
The idea, to me, was that comments are tough - from both a moderation and community standpoint. I’m also just not a fan of comments. I’ve found them unsatisfying or just off-topic.
What if there were some way we could instead encourage a user to zero-in on specific pieces of information within an article and contribute there?
The one thing we’d like to share with you today is how an idea makes its way from random conversation to a publicly facing service.
I started digging through old directories and emails and put together a snapshot of some of the changes along the way.
From the Paper app to white-board…
The Whiteboard - July 2012 ⇡
It was around this time we were ramping up on launching the actual site. It was becoming clear that annotations wouldn’t make it as part of this. There were still many things to figure out, and it really needed more time and attention.
First round of design - July 2012 ⇡
Second round - April 2013 ⇡
Second design evolves - April 2013 ⇡
Getting closer - June 2013 ⇡
It is a credit to the many people who together assembled all the moving parts in our experiment - it was a group that spanned editorial, design, development, and more… I cannot wait to see how this evolves.