Traffic lights on green
Credit: By PeterJBellis on Flickr

Business news site Quartz has reported "a new traffic record" for January, of more than five million unique visitors.

The site, which launched just 18 months ago, focusses on "smart, creative, shareable content", with articles that are either under 500 words or longer, more analytical pieces.

Speaking to, Kevin Delaney, editor-in-chief of the site, said he believed Quartz's rapid growth was down to its strategy for being "as optimised for the free, open social web as possible."

They key is that we have digitally native content which is not only very shareable but designed for mobile reading experiencesKevin Delaney, Quartz
"They key is that we have digitally-native content which is not only very shareable but designed for mobile reading experiences," he said.

He added that traffic to Quartz, based on Omniture figures, had increased by around one million every quarter since the site launched in September 2012.

Further, he said that advertising revenue was also tracking to be up more than 400 per cent over the first quarter last year, with Quartz adding more than 40 blue chip accounts to its client roster in the last 12 months.

Mobile is Quartz's fastest-growing audience, with 41 per cent of unique visitors viewing the site on a tablet or mobile phone in January.

More than 50 per cent of the site's overall traffic also comes from social media, said Delaney. This is something he attributes to the "Quartz curve" – the belief that the most shareable content is either under 500 words or more than 800.

"Articles of between 500 and 800 words are too long to be sharable, and too short to be in-depth," he said at an event in October last year.

Another way Quartz makes the most of social shareability is to exploit the visual nature of the web, with roughly half of posts including some kind of graph or chart.

"Charts are very native to a business environment," said Delaney, "and they're also a really efficient way to communicate information generally rather than forcing someone to read 900 words about a complex topic."

And data visualisation is an area Quartz will be investing in over the next 12 months, he explained.

Quartz has already open-sourced its Chartbuilder platform, a tool for newsrooms that is currently being used by outlets including The New Yorker, CNBC and NPR

The Quartz team have also developed the data mapping tool Mapbuilder, currently being refined and so only being used internally, but the plan is to make that open-source as well.

Another key area for Quartz in 2014 is continuing to grow its readership outside of the US.

Forty per cent of traffic came from outside of the US in January, said Delaney, with 15 per cent of that coming from the UK.

"The thing which is really interesting about the UK is that around 90 per cent of our readers in the UK are classified as executives," said Delaney, "compared to more than 60 per cent of our readers globally."

What you write determines to a large extent who reads you on social mediaKevin Delaney, Quartz
"What you write determines to a large extent who reads you on social media," he added. "It's because we're writing high-quality business content that has resonated with that readership."

In September 2013 Quartz recruited a second London-based journalist, Jason Karaian, to work alongside other international reporters – two in Hong Kong and one in Bangkok as well as one in Washington DC and "a bunch in New York".

And although Delaney says he is not certain when Quartz will be adding more journalists to the UK, he said that Quartz's goal "is to really be a global publication".

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