Staff abandons desktop access to NYTimes.com for ‘Mobile Week’
The New York Times made a bold commitment to mobile in June when it restricted employee access to its desktop website in an effort to improve the experience of reading its journalism on mobile and tablet platforms.
“Mobile Week” took place June 15-19, and was the brainchild of Assistant Masthead Editor Clifford Levy.
“The basic challenge we’re facing is that more readers are coming to us on mobile platforms — phone, tablets — and we need to be focusing on those readers and ensuring that the experience on those platforms is as excellent as it can be,” Levy told News & Tech.
To foster that, the paper blocked access to its desktop website to all of the approximately 2,000 employees at its 620 Eighth Ave. offices in New York City. The restriction also applied to any employees that remotely access NYT’s servers via Web or VPN.
When employees attempted to access the site, they were prompted to visit it on their mobile or tablet device, Levy explained.
Levy tweeted the Mobile Week announcement — from Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., CEO Mark Thompson, Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal — on June 12.
“It got retweeted almost 2,000 times,” Levy said. “And a lot of people responded by saying, “We should do this.” And it wasn’t just newspapers, but other types of businesses that saw this as a great way to get employees to focus on mobile.
“That was really kind of exciting to see how much this experience resonated outside of The Times.”
The experiment was a challenge for staff, Levy said since they write, report and edit via desktop.
“You may write something and think it looks great, but that doesn’t mean it looks good on a phone,” he said. “Our desktop CMS has a mobile preview, but it’s not the same.”
Levy wanted employees to come up with ways to handle the challenges mobile