Six smart features of Quartz’s first homepage

Reed Reibstein
3 min readAug 25, 2014

Quartz has a new design (version 3.0), including a real homepage for the first time. Senior Editor Zach Seward explains the changes they’ve made across the site in detail here, but I wanted to note six homepage features that struck me in particular.

1. Betting big on a lead story

The homepage focuses on one lead story, giving it prominent treatment far above all others. Visitors won’t feel overwhelmed by a hundred headlines jockeying for attention. And if that lead story doesn’t capture every single person’s attention, they can scroll to see more pieces.

2. Centering on “The Brief”

Adapted from their popular daily email, Quartz’s editors tell you what you need to know about “your world right now.” Ten items, succinctly summarized in a few sentences, with more information available beneath for those interested. The Brief isn’t for news junkies so much as for readers exhausted by the never-ending stream of news. After scanning The Brief, many may breathe easier knowing that they haven’t missed out on any big stories — and can just get on with their day.

3. The Brief links out

Quartz’s Brief includes the news its editors think you should know, regardless of whether it comes from their site or elsewhere. The top four items midday August 25 include twelve links; only two of those are links to Quartz stories. The rest link to stories from a Fox affiliate, NBC News, Colorlines, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, The BBC, ABC News, Reuters, and Al Jazeera America. Quartz isn’t afraid to acknowledge that other news sites exist a click away. Its editors know that if they provide the best coverage, readers will return of their own volition.

4. Just one big, beautiful ad

Quartz’s homepage ad for Cisco. It plays a fifteen-second video on click.

Readers don’t visit websites for the advertising. Instead of a banner ad awkwardly pushing down the top stories, the homepage features only one ad in the middle of the page. The ad for Cisco interrupts The Brief and takes over the full width of the screen. You can’t miss it with its size and subtle animation, but it doesn’t feel like much of an imposition. There are no other ads on the homepage, so Cisco can be sure that they have readers’ attention.

5. One of The Brief’s items is just a chart

Labeled “Chart of the Moment,” it shows the converging price of lithium iron batteries and effectively conveys a key part of the full story. I hope that future Briefs will contain other non-traditional items that can stand on their own, such as a map, a quote, or a number.

6. A streamlined responsive design

This is perhaps the least surprising part of the new homepage given that the previous design was minimal and responsive as well. Nevertheless, it does not disappoint: The new navigation scheme is wonderfully restrained, with its few items tucked away while you scroll down; photos are given plenty of width (if not always quite enough height); and the headline type is confidently large on bigger screens.



Reed Reibstein

Product leader and design manager. Letterform enthusiast.