Launched in 2010, Kothari’s mobile news app presents articles as scrollable image tiles. In 2012, he debuted an equally elegant web version. Pulse has now surpassed 20 million users.
1. Text Equals Stress
"When we founded Pulse at Stanford, we would interview classmates as they opened all of their RSS subscriptions. They’d cringe because the first thing they saw was all this text, and an inbox that told them the hundreds of stories they hadn’t read. Suddenly, there’s this struggle just to catch up with what’s going on in the world."
2. Get to the Point
"If you see an image of President Obama and Mitt Romney debating, it strikes an emotional chord. Your brain doesn’t need to read five lines to understand why this moment is going to be historic. In some ways, it’s like a shortcut. The image gets you halfway there."
3. Navigation Matters Too
"I think 99% of news websites are not designed for discovery. They’re based on this simple WordPress platform; you can see all the stories, but you can’t quickly and easily browse. The news should be so well laid out that people get lost in it."
4. Ditch Banner Ads
"The root cause of news sites’ problems is advertising. The reading experience suffers from all these crappy banner ads. Forty years ago, newspaper ads were crafted well; they told a story. Then, as the Internet came about, we shifted to performance-driven ads that are based on figuring out, What can I say to make people click on me?"
5. Build in Experiences
"Publishers have to rethink how to design native ad experiences. On Pulse, the advertiser is challenged to tell a story that fits well in the Pulse environment. If ads are well curated and organically flow with the current of your content, readers won’t find them annoying."
[Photo by Sanjit Das]
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A version of this article appeared in the April 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.