Two years on and sister site, the ad-supported Boston.com, is to adopt a responsive design, and is planning to introduce a personalised "stream of content" much like Facebook offers, Jeff Moriarty from the Boston Globe told the Tablet and App Summit in Berlin.
The feed, which will be introduced in 2014, will "automatically start to understand your behaviour and the types of content you would be interested in", he said, so if someone never clicks on video, they will be shown more text-based stories.
The new personalisation feature will be introduced at Boston.com, which is free to access, unlike the paywalled site BostonGlobe.com, which charges users $14.99 a month for a subscription and has 45,000 digital-only subscribers.
Boston.com is "free and will always be free", said Moriarty, who is general manager of Boston.com and vice-president of digital products at the Boston Globe and Boston.com.
Lessons from BostonGlobe.com
The initial prototype for the responsive site was developed in the second half of 2010. Despite bosses at the Globe not having other responsive sites to act as a reference, they agreed to push forward with the development. Having a prototype meant they "could see what it could do across devices", Moriarty said.
And two years on BostonGlobe.com demonstrates that "if you build it they will come", he added, explaining that people spend longer on the responsive site.
He said design elements can be reused, which saves work and means editors do not have to plan for mobile, tablet and desktop layouts. "It's like the Ikea of website development", he said, in that you have elements that work across all devices and fit together.
And the result? Subscribers provide a "solid revenue stream", Moriarty said. He added that 70 per cent have "never had a relationship with the Globe" and are a new, younger audience.
Adding an app
Earlier this year the Boston Globe launched an iPhone app, priced at $4.99 a month, as "app users are more price sensitive", Moriarty said.
"Some people just like apps and we wanted to reach them," he added.
Moriarty offered advice to fellow publishers at the conference. "We encourage others to really believe in the future of the browser," he said.
"This will become more and more app-like and users are getting more and more used to using the browser to find information.
"It's the most flexible platform to reach as many people as possible."
Correction: This article initially reported that BostonGlobe.com would introduce a 'stream of content' when it is in fact Boston.com.
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