Jordan Moore
UX Design & Interaction

A picture of my poorly bearded face

15th December 2013

How I built Tickertape (aka fixing the shortcomings of the typical email newsletter)

I’m not going to make any grand statements like “newsletters are broken”, newsletters are still a great way of bringing content to the reader rather than asking the reader to come to the content; and that’s a powerful thing when RSS usage is dwindling. When I built Tickertape, I wanted to fix a few things about how newsletters are both presented and read by their readers.

The design objectives for Tickertape are as follows:

Quality

Only quality writing and resources should feature in Tickertape. Each digest aims to have around 5 links, but this target is flexible — it has to be. Quality content will never be compromised in favour of filling a link quota. If another Tickertape issue is ready for release but it contains only 2 or 3 quality links then that’s absolutely fine.

Traditional industry publications typically have a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly schedule, Tickertape doesn’t. It’s a frequent publication. The content dictates the publication date rather than the schedule - otherwise quality suffers to meet a release date.

Relevance

Tickertape is all about relevant content. The links are ordered by date from newest to oldest — some might be as recent as today, some might be yesterday — just relevant, informative content from the best authors on the web.

Usually industry newsletters provide relevant content, I wanted to build on that with Tickertape. The dates are published in a relative format to help you quickly identify recent content.

In compatible email clients, you can quickly identify the items you have already read on the web

Compatible email clients take relevance a step further. Items you have already read appear different to items you haven’t read. The articles you have already read before the issue arrives in your inbox appear in a dimmed grey in contrast to new content. This helps you quickly see how relevant the current issue is to you. Whether the items are all exciting new content you haven’t read, or if it’s content you can quickly tell if you’ve already read then Tickertape has done it’s job in letting you decide if you want to read or not and get on with your day. It’s disposable in the best sense of the word.

Slow

Personally this is my favourite feature. “Slow” is generally considered to be a bad thing on the web — I think we can embrace “slow” as a benefit and use it effectively.

Think about the typical email newsletter — does it always arrive at a convenient time where you are ready to read it? Probably not. There are many occasions where I have opened an email, scanned the contents and thought — I’ll read that later, only never to return to the email.

Sometimes marking it as unread is enough of an indicator to come back to it, but sometimes your initial guess of where and when later might be mightn’t correlate with your current situation.

Imagine a scenario where I open a newsletter in the morning before work. I mark it as unread to come back to it later this evening when I have a few hours to spare only to find that later that day I ended up resting and avoiding emails. This is a common situation and Tickertape approaches the problem differently.

You can read the current issue of Tickertape later by sending it to your Kindle, Readmill account or iBooks. Read on your schedule rather than the publication’s schedule

Tickertape allows you to send the articles from the current issue to Readmill, iBooks or your Kindle1 meaning you can pick up the current issue of Tickertape when it’s convenient for you to do so. No marking as unread, flagging or tagging.

Newsletters have become comfortable with their current format. Tickertape reimagines how we use email content with quality, relevant and timely content.

You can receive Tickertape by becoming a member and supporting this site along with many other benefits.


  1. Thanks to the power of Readlists from Readability and Arc90. 

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