Memo: Big traffic growth for Deadspin, Gawker in December

Romenesko Memos

Deadspin and Gawker were up 91% and 85% respectively over December 2009, says Nick Denton's memo. "What marked them out? Scoops. This month's highlights: the foot fetishist and this wonderfully rude email to a whiny fan."

From: Nick Denton

Subject: December 2010 and the new layout

To: [Gawker staff]

Date: Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 4:26 PM

I'd hoped to begin the year with the rousing plan for the new layout. But that's been held back to the end of the month. So I'll save the big harangue.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of obvious lessons from the December numbers. First, images and video dominate the top 100 even more clearly than last time I looked. Two stories in particular standout. Jesus' New Life and Aids Cure pieces were powerful mixes of visuals and headline graphics -- oh, yes, and a measure of tabloid hype.

And another very different graphic: io9's comparison of 2000 and 2010, by the numbers. This would have been a very boring story if done as text. As a bar chart, it was perfect end of the year pass-around fodder.

Take a look too at the audience by site. The median growth from December 2009 to last month was 45%. Deeply impressive! But the two sites which stood out were Deadspin and Gawker, up 91% and 85% respectively. What marked them out? Scoops. This month's highlights: the foot fetishist and this wonderfully rude email to a whiny fan.


So, is there anything you can do to brace yourself for the new layout? Much more on this in a couple of weeks.

But in the meantime look at the top 100 list. Anything that works in the current design will work even better in the new layout. Scoops will get even stronger play in the splash on the front page. Headlines will need to stand alone, without the explanatory support of a lede. And stories with powerful (640x360) images or video will have so much better chance of breaking out. So, just like now -- but more so.

Oh, and cut out the last of the pseudo-news, whether it's boring casting developments or the latest figures from the UK market. They'll never get the splash treatment. And, if they do somehow slip through, I'll go nuts.

Now go check out the beta version of your site. They're all working again. You should live in them.

Happy New Year!


  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


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