Recent posts in my Popular Category

November 2, 2012

“The UX of publishing for tablets and smartphones” - Martin Belam at #TAS12

This is an essay version of a talk I gave at the Tablet & App Summit at the World Publishing Expo in Frankfurt, October 2012.

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October 23, 2012

I always wanted to use CEEFAX page numbers

With the ultimate demise of CEEFAX due this week, I’m reminded that I was once a passionate advocate that BBC URLs should have a re-direct mapping from CEEFAX page numbers, so that would go to the BBC Sport homepage, and would be the football homepage.

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October 17, 2012

“Engaging Facebook through EdgeRank” - Kelvin Newman, Jeremy Waite and Martin Belam at a4uexpo

Today I was part of a panel session at a4uexpo in London talking about “Engaging Facebook through EDGErank, Content Optimisation and Killer Apps” alongside Kelvin Newman and Jeremy Waite.

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October 14, 2012

The vexing issue of managing football comments on a newspaper website

On Friday I was involved in a Twitter conversation with Guardian journalists Sean Ingle and Sid Lowe about the value of comments underneath football stories on newspaper websites.

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October 1, 2012

“Responsive IA: IA in the touchscreen era” - Martin Belam at EuroIA

This is an essay version of the talk I gave at EuroIA 2012 in Rome, looking at responsive design and touchscreen devices have changed the approach I take to my IA work.

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September 25, 2012

“Designing products with mobile users at the core” - Martin Belam at Mobile Media Strategies 2012

This is a version of the talk I gave today at Mobile Media Strategies 2012

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September 14, 2012

“How to make friends. And influence robots” - Martin Belam at BrightonSEO

This is a version of the talk I gave at BrightonSEO on September 14th 2012.

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September 7, 2012

And then I remembered Situ

Going to a Talk Talk tribute party reminded me that I’d forgotten Situ, a school friend who loved them, and who died unexpectedly when he was in his twenties.

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September 5, 2012

Hold ye front page - someone is wrong about the internet

You might have seen an image doing the rounds on the web which appears to be The Sun reporting on the invention of the World Wide Web, and comparing it to the Sinclair C5. Much hilarity ensues. Of course the image is a fake.

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August 23, 2012

Why your news site should never automatically open external links in a new window

A question that I used to get asked time and time again in the comments underneath techie blog posts on the Guardian was why the site didn’t open external links in a new window. And I get asked variations of it elsewhere, so I thought I’d just take five minutes to set out why, on the 21st century internet, forcing links to open new browser windows is wrong.

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August 2, 2012

Why I have (some) sympathy with the people behind the Olympic ticketing website

It seems that like most of my Twitter timeline I spent a good deal of last night futilely pounding my fists on my laptop keyboard trying desperately to get any joy out of the London 2012 Olympics ticketing website. After a while, hypnotised by the queue animation graphic, I got into a zen-like state where I began to ponder how you could possibly end up designing a system that worked this way.

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July 25, 2012

Is Godzilla destroying journalism?

I recently appeared at an event entitled “Is social media destroying journalism?”. Here is the essay version of what I said on the night. Featuring a certain B-movie favourite...

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July 12, 2012

“Tight-fitting dresses and data-viz” - Anna Powell-Smith at Hacks/Hackers London

Anna Powell-Smith was talking to the Hacks/Hackers London group about her experience of having a small service she’d built gain lots of national press attention, and giving her ten tips for building great data-based interactives. Here are my notes from the talk.

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July 4, 2012

“New digital divides” - Martin Belam at Hacks/Hackers Canterbury

On Monday night I spoke at the inaugural meeting of Hacks/Hackers Canterbury. Here is an essay version of my talk.

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July 2, 2012

“My life as an ebibliophile” - Why I disagree with Julian Barnes about the future of books

At the weekend, Julian Barnes wrote a piece for the Guardian Review lamenting the death of books, and describing ebooks as identikit publishing, books which hold information rather than knowledge. I think he his wrong, and that the ebook heralds a golden age of story-telling.

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June 21, 2012

Goodbye Guardian

Today has been my last day as a permanent member of staff at the Guardian...

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May 30, 2012

Give share buttons their due - they do change user behaviour

There’s a really interesting post by Oliver Reichenstein doing the rounds at the moment entitled “Sweep the Sleaze”, about why sites should remove share buttons from their pages. If you haven’t read it, you should. And then come back and read why I don’t agree with it.

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March 22, 2012

“A seismic shift in our referral traffic” - how the Guardian’s Facebook app eclipsed Google

Since we launched it back in September I’ve been constantly monitoring Twitter for feedback and reaction to the Guardian’s Facebook app. One of my favourite tweets asked this question: “I wonder how much referral traffic The Guardian has lost from Facebook since they implemented their 'Social Reader' agreement..” Yesterday we answered that question in a talk by our director of digital development Tanya Cordrey.

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March 20, 2012

A thoroughly refreshing approach to news design from ITV News

This week ITV News relaunched with a site that made a radical break with the one they had before, and which frees itself from a lot of the baggage that usually comes when designing a news site. It certainly still has some rough edges, but it is a fascinating approach.

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February 28, 2012

“How the FT shifted from native apps to web apps” - Steve Pinches at Hacks/Hackers London

Here are my notes from Hacks/Hackers London meet-up where Steve Pinches from the FT gave a very open and frank talk about their work in the mobile space. He is product manager for that area, and was talking particularly about their move to HTML5 web apps and away from native apps.

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February 24, 2012

Journalist-centred design for the CMS

This is my contribution to February’s Carnival of Journalism. The topic this month, set by Steve Outing, is “What emerging technology or digital trend do you think will have a significant impact on journalism in the year or two ahead?” I’m hoping it might be journalist-centred design for the CMS.

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February 8, 2012

Three things adults need to know about teens, Facebook and privacy

Last week at news:rewired I was talking about the Guardian’s Facebook app. During the Q&A after my talk, the topic of privacy cropped up several times, especially with regard to younger people using the Facebook platform. Here are three important things that I think adults should know about when they are discussing privacy amongst teenagers.

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February 3, 2012

“The Guardian’s Facebook app” - Martin Belam at news:rewired

At news:rewired today I was part of a panel discussing optimising news sites for social media. I talked about the Guardian’s Facebook app. Here is an essay version of the talks.

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December 21, 2011

The top 10 currybetdotnet posts of 2011

Christmas Eve, incredibly, marks the ninth anniversary of this blog on the web. Here is my now customary annual round-up of the posts that have proved the most popular in the previous twelve months.

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December 8, 2011

Why I’ve closed comments on my blog

Why I’ve closed comments on my blog

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December 2, 2011

BBC homepage redesign - behind the scenes 2002-style

The BBC has been taking a lot pf public stick for their redesign of their web homepage. Here is a quick look behind the scenes at how the design process for the page took place back in 2002.

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November 21, 2011

“Who’s Who: The Resurrection of the Doctor”: Doctor Who ebook confidential

The Guardian has just published the latest in our Guardian Shorts ebook series - “Who’s Who: Ressurection of the Doctor”. I edited the collection. And just as every episode of Doctor Who these days has a behind-the-scenes “Doctor Who Confidential” to go with it, here is the story behind the editing of the book.

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November 9, 2011

An A-Z of journalism Twitter etiquette

There are a limited number of letters in the alphabet, and so, with the suggestion that journalists should be using “NT” to demonstrate a neutral point of view when retweeting, I thought we should just go ahead and define the entire alphabet of inept journalistic use of Twitter etiquette all in one go.

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October 17, 2011

How the Guardian’s iPad app changed the way that I consumed news

We’ve had a lot of products launch over the last few weeks at the Guardian, including Android and Windows phone apps and our Facebook app, but none have been as high profile as our iPad launch. With a design team of Mark Porter, Andy Brockie, Barry Ainslie and John-Henry Barac, you wouldn’t expect it to be anything other than beautiful, and using it has changed the way that I consume news.

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October 12, 2011

Reaction to the Guardian’s Facebook app

It is just over twenty days since we released the Guardian Facebook app. I’ve been engaged with a lot of conversations with people about it on Twitter over the last couple of weeks, and I thought I might put down a few thoughts on the app, and some of the reaction to it.

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September 24, 2011

“The IA of /Culture” - Martin Belam at EuroIA 2011

This is the essay version of the talk I gave yesterday at the EuroIA Summit in Prague.

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September 5, 2011

“CMS - the software UX forgot” - Karen McGrane at Content Strategy Forum 2011

My notes from Karen McGrane’s brilliant talk at Content Strategy Forum 2011.

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September 2, 2011

How digital transformed the news cycle - and what you can do about it

This is an essay version of a talk given at last week’s Hacks/Hackers meet-up in London. I presented eight things that I believe news organisations need to stop doing, start doing, or do better, in order to cope with the way that digital has transformed the news cycle.

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September 1, 2011

“Don’t be a dick” - the golden rule of news website comment threads

I happen to think that if you take most community management guidelines or blogging and commenting guidelines for staff, they basically boil down to “Don’t be a dick”. In fact, I think there is quite a simple flow chart to follow if you find yourself on the wrong end of a moderation decision on a news website.

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August 24, 2011

Let’s train journalists for the future, not for the past

I’ll be speaking tonight at the London Hacks/Hackers meeting, and one of the points I’ll be making is that the digital publishing revolution is a perpetual revolution, one that requires constant learning. That section of my talk is partly fuelled by how angry I was made yesterday by a piece in the Press Gazette, which suggested that editors do not value digital media skills.

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August 13, 2011

The BBC Twitter picture copyright storm reminds me why I’m glad I don’t answer emails for the BBC anymore

Today there has been a Twitter-storm over an email sent from the BBC to Andy Mabbett. He had complained about the BBC’s use of pictures from Twitter, and the reply he got seemed to suggest that the BBC considered anything posted via Twitter to be in “the public domain”. The response was clearly wrong, and at odds with the BBC’s own guidelines about the usage of social media. Several BBC staff responded on Twitter and in the comments on Andy’s blog post. I have some sympathy with whoever wrote that original email.

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August 12, 2011

Riots are an opportunity for long-form data journalism

It is easy to think of “data journalism” as being about automatic computer analysis of large datasets, but good data journalism has story-telling at the centre. Over the coming days, weeks, and months there is a lot of data journalism to be done about the riots and looting in the UK. It is an opportunity for long-form data journalism, and the responsibility of the media to use this data in a way that helps us understand the riots, not in a way that prolongs their negative impact.

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August 2, 2011

“Community management in the newsroom” - The Guardian’s Laura Oliver at Hack/Hackers London

I’ve said on many occasions that I am genuinely baffled how so many news organisations seem to think they can grow an active community on their website, without investing in any community management. At the Guardian we have several people in a role called “community co-ordinator” who fulfill this remit. One of them, Laura Oliver, spoke at the last London Hacks/Hackers meet-up. Here are my notes on four of the key points that Laura made in her talk.

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July 27, 2011

Did the BBC really “lose” 60,000 Twitter followers?

Over the last couple of days there has been loads of attention to a blog post entitled “How the BBC lost 60,000 Twitter followers to ITV” by Tom Callow on The Wall. Last night he tweeted: “TweetReach tells me tweets about my blog on the BBC's 'lost' followers reached over 1.3 million people via 1,100 tweets!”. Which is all well and it true?

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July 25, 2011

4 key pieces of audience engagement missing from Andy Rutledge’s news redux

Andy Rutledge published a fascinating blog post last week looking at the design of digital news, and to illustrate his points he did a redux of the New York Times. Whilst appreciating the visual design, I thought there were 4 key areas where I very much disagree with Andy’s analysis, and think it would fail to engage with mainstream news readers.

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July 11, 2011

Benji Lanyado on TwiTrips and technology at the Guardian

Over the last few months we’ve been holding a series of talks at The Guardian for staff around the theme of “digital”. Recently it was the turn of Benji Lanyado, who has made a name for himself as the Guardian’s travel writer who goes on #TwiTrips. He arrives in a city, and then relies on people tweeting him with tips and directions to find hidden gems and the things that the locals recommend.

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June 28, 2011

“Just to clarify, as a mere amateur blogger, I never make direct quotes up or deliberately misattribute them”

Pride comes before a fall. In the wake of the Johann Hari affair, I boasted that as an amateur blogger I never misattribute quotes. Only, four hours later, to be notified that I had done just that the previous day...

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June 23, 2011

Changing the Guardian through guerilla usability testing

Today at the UPA Conference in Atlanta I gave a presentation entitled “Changing the Guardian through guerilla usability testing”. Here is an essay version of the talk.

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7 things I love about the new Guardian artist pages for Glastonbury

This week, in the run-up to Glastonbury, at The Guardian we have begun publishing the latest incarnation of our artist tag pages. These gives us an automated page for every artist playing at the festival, which mixes together our own content with content drawn from the rest of the web. It is an extension of the work that we did earlier in the year based upon the SxSW festival, and on some even longer-standing prototypes that our development team built in the middle of 2010 as a proof of concept. And this blog post is about why I am so pleased with them.

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June 14, 2011

“Come as you are” - Part 1: The Reckless years

Over the next few days I’ll be publishing an essay version of “Come as you are”, my Polish IA Summit keynote talk, which looked back over how I came to be an Information Architect, and what I’ve learned in the process.

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May 31, 2011

5 reasons news organisations prefer in-house web publishing tools

Outside of the news industry, it sometimes seems insane that we insist on reinventing the wheel and rebuilding tools when there are free alternatives out on the web. Here are five reasons I think we do that.

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May 30, 2011

“A uniquely digital media” - Live blogging discussion at news:rewired

The final session at news:rewired on Friday was a panel discussing the medium of live blogging, expertly hosted by Marcus Warren from the Telegraph, and featuring my colleague Guardian Blog’s Editor Matt Wells, Anna Doble of Channel 4, and Paul Gallagher of the Manchester Evening News. It was a really good session, with some good natured rivalry between the Telegraph and Guardian on display, and it really felt like the conversation has moved on from “What is live blogging and should we be doing it?” to “How can we use this new uniquely digital media to its best advantage and develop it further”.

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May 20, 2011

My notes from the BBC Social Media Summit

I spent much of today at the BBC Social Media Summit, and thought it worth putting together a few quick notes on the things that stood out for me.

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April 7, 2011

5 lessons from an Information Architecture career

Today I delivered the opening keynote address at the Polish IA Summit in Warsaw, entitled “Come as you are”. It is the story of how I’ve come to spend 13 years building digital products, and how I’ve observed and been part of the changes and development in the UX and IA disciplines over that time. It finishes with what I consider to be the five key lessons about computers and people from my career as an IA practitioner. Here they are...

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April 5, 2011

Verifying social media in the middle of Egypt's revolution

Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott recently gave a lunchtime talk to assorted staff about a trip to Egypt, where he was talking to local journalists about journalistic ethics and press regulation. As well as The Guardian’s reporting having an effect in Cairo via Twitter, we were reporting what was being posted from there - and there was a good debate after Chris spoke about the verification standards that you could put to information collected this way, and how it should then presented to our audience via live blogging and other means.

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April 4, 2011

Guardian Readers' Editor on the role of social media in the Egyptian revolution

Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott recently gave a lunchtime talk to assorted staff about his recent trip to Egypt, where he was talking to local journalists about journalistic ethics and press regulation. It turned out to be a timely visit, as Chris arrived shortly after the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, with the press in the country facing an uncertain, but presumably freer future. During it, he discussed how Egyptians themselves see the role played by social media in the events.

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April 1, 2011

All your IA Summit slides are belong to us

A (probably futile) attempt to gather all the 2011 IA Summit slides into one handy reference point.

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March 31, 2011

News innovation isn't just about writing code, it is about how we use that code to tell stories

Nick Petrie on the Wannabe Hacks blog recently asked why news organisations were only getting to grips with the concept of online community now in 2011. In the course of his post, he said: “What I wonder is - why didn't a newspaper invent Facebook or Twitter?”. He’s not the first to wonder that, but personally, I’m unconvinced that this isn’t akin to asking why the Great Western Railway didn’t invent the automobile.

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March 24, 2011

The ongoing debate over anonymous comments on newspaper websites

There was another fascinating round of the debate about anonymous and pseudo-anonymous comments on newspaper websites this morning, which seemed to be primarily kicked off by Times columnist David Aaronovitch on Twitter: “Can anyone think of a reason why commenters on newspaper sites should be allowed to be anonymous, or use pseudonyms? I find the CiF comments system completely pointless, partly because of ano/pseudo-nymity. Same tedious trashers endlessly recycled.”

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SEO at the BBC: The early years

Yesterday I blogged some notes I’d made as The Guardian’s SEO Editorial Executive Chris Moran talked about how he went about his job in a newsroom in 2010.

It made an amusing contrast to the humble way I went about SEO for the BBC when I started there in 2000. My first job was “Registration co-ordinator”, a role I shared with the wonderful Anne Scott.

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March 23, 2011

Chris Moran explaining SEO at The Guardian

A couple of weeks ago at The Guardian our SEO Editorial Executive Chris Moran gave a talk about SEO to an assembled bunch of people from around the business. He said: “A lot of the opinions people have about SEO are based upon prejudice and a lack of understanding about how search engines work.”. Here are my notes from his talk.

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March 22, 2011

"Neither TV station nor repurposed website" - Sky News app for the iPad

My first impressions of the Sky News app on iPad have been very positive. They’ve promised that it gives “new ways to deliver news to our users”, and it is a very different visual approach.

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March 10, 2011

The Guardian's Paul Lewis on crowd-sourcing investigative journalism with Twitter

Last week I attended an event at the Royal Statistical Society looking at data and news sourcing, and one of the panel sessions was about crowd-sourcing using the internet. My Guardian colleague and 2010 Reporter of the year Paul Lewis was one of those appearing, and he has been at the centre of a couple of investigations that have used Twitter extensively as a component of the research and reporting.

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March 7, 2011

Abort? Retry? Fail? - Judging the success of the Guardian's MP's expenses app

Last week I attended an event on 'data and news sourcing', and one of the panels was about crowd-sourcing. As is often the case in this context, The Guardian’s MP’s expenses app was mentioned. I got a chance to chime in, and wanted to tell the story of how between the first and second iteration of the app, we’d learnt a little about encouraging participation and in keeping it going.

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February 22, 2011

Is Guardian live blogging really the "death of journalism"?

The louse & the flea blog had a post today entitled “The Guardian Newsblog and the Death of Journalism” which, somewhat naturally, rather caught my eye.

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