I have a list of metrics that I automatically – even subconsciously – use when visiting a web site, to determine whether it’s worth my focus. Am I just a pair of eyeballs, or is this author really speaking to me? Have they given due thought to showing their work in the best light, or just thrown it up there? You can tell a lot about how a site’s author, or owning company, feels about you by how they balance the various tensions of design, content, monetisation, functionality, audience retention, and more.
Whenever I go to a site that is nothing more than endless rewrites of other people’s posts wrapped in teaser headlines and served alongside endless ads, related content, modal lightboxes, “toasters”, and a hundred different sharing options — I’m looking in your direction, Business Insider and the Verge — I internally question whether the site is actually proud of its authors’ writing. In short, does the publication respect its writers? In most cases, the answer is “no”. And if it doesn’t respect its writers, you can bet it doesn’t respect readers, either.