The Mottram Program

Tumbls Worth Tumbln About

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USA Today looked for inspiration in the viral media darlings, BuzzFeed and Upworthy, for a sports section that mixes original and aggregated content with you-gotta-click-to-see-what-happens headlines. In just nine months, For The Win has shown “legacy” publishers can win in the social-sharing game. According to comScore, FTW’s unique visitors more than doubled from May to December, when it drew 7 million uniques.
 FTW: How USA TODAY Mastered Viral Sports Content

Filed under Media Sports USA TODAY FTW Social Mobile Strat

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Yahoo! Sports Blog Headers (2008-13)

As part of Yahoo! Sports’ not-so-recent redesign they removed the headers we’d hung on their blogs when launching them in 2008-09.

These fun little designs have a piece of my heart, you see, and they deserve a home, if only for me to look back on years from now.

Here they are, along with a little director’s commentary …

Ball Don’t Lie

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This was the first blog we staffed (J.E. Skeets and Kelly Dwyer!), named and designed. My favorite.

Big League Stew 

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Note the ivy, which is a tip of the cap to original BLS editor (now Yahoo! Sports blog editor) Kevin Kaduk, who wrote a book about Wrigley.

Shutdown Corner

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I never really understood this look, but I like it. Gritty.

Puck Daddy

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Puck Daddy is great, and Greg Wyshynski is a force of nature. Solid header too; the blood is a nice touch.

From the Marbles

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Nobody knew what “the marbles” were anyway.

Devil Ball Golf

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Nobody knew what “devil ball” was either, but Jay Busbee is my dude.

Dr. Saturday

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Love the Strangelove-inspired name and header. The tagline, though isn’t all that relevant anymore. (RIP, BCS.)

Roto Arcade

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It’s about fantasy sports, you see.

Cagewriter

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This is just kinda gross, which is a shame, because the alternate version (with dinosaurs and laser beams) was A+.

Prep Rally

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Not sure why the “Y” is on fire. Interesting choice.

Busted Racquet

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Very Wes Anderson, which is to say I like it very much.

Fourth-Place Medal

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This is the Olympics blog, so it could look like shit and still do ALL OF THE PAGE VIEWS.

The Dagger

I can’t find the old header for the college hoops blog. It’s lovely and in line with the rest, mostly designed by Mark Delamare. He did good.

UPDATE: Thanks to Patrick Clarke, here’s The Dagger.

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And I somehow forgot Dirty Tackle the first time around.

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Filed under Sports Media Design Yahoo! Blogs

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The 50 Best Albums of 2013 for Real

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Unlike the 20 best songs of 2013 for real, which is in no particular order, this order is very particular. It’s the 50 albums I liked and listened to the most, winnowed down from a much larger Spotify playlist (a 1,018-track, 65-hour monster, if you can handle it).

1. Phosphorescent :: Muchacho

2. Kanye West :: Yeezus

3. Futurebirds :: Baba Yaga

4. Vampire Weekend :: Modern Vampires of the City

5. The National :: Trouble Will Find Me

6. Foxygen :: We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

7. Yo La Tengo :: Fade

8. Jason Isbell :: Southeastern

9. Daft Punk :: Random Access Memories

10. Kurt Vile :: Wakin on a Pretty Daze

11. Sonny & the Sunsets :: Antenna to the Afterworld

12. Jim James :: Regions of Light and Sound of God

13. Still Corners :: Strange Pleasures

14. Steve Gunn :: Time Off

15. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros :: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

16. Volcano Choir :: Repave

17. Drake :: Nothing Was the Same

18. Arcade Fire :: Reflektor

19. William Tyler :: Impossible Truth

20. Pusha T :: My Name Is My Name

21. Laura Marling :: Once I Was an Eagle

22. Unknown Mortal Orchestra :: II

23. Ducktails :: The Flower Lane

24. Mutual Benefit :: Love’s Crushing Diamond

25. The Avett Brothers :: Magpie and the Dandelion

26. Parquet Courts :: Light Up Gold

27. A$AP Rocky :: LONG.LIVE.A$AP

28. Bob Dylan :: Another Self Portrait

29. Cass McCombs :: Big Wheel and Others

30. Camera Obscura :: Desire Lines

31. Waxahatchee :: Cerulean Salt

32. Cayucas :: Bigfoot

33. Okkervil River :: The Silver Gymnasium

34. Houndmouth :: From the Hills Below the City

35. Local Natives :: Hummingbird

36. Iron and Wine :: Ghost on Ghost

37. Courtney Barnett :: The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas

38. The Love Language :: Ruby Red

39. Deerhunter :: Monomania

40. Youth Lagoon :: Wondrous Bughouse

41. Rogue Wave :: Nightingale Floors

42. Washed Out :: Paracosm

43. The Shouting Matches :: Grownass Man

44. Earl Sweatshirt :: Doris

45. King Krule :: 6 Feet Beneath the Moon

46. Junip :: Junip

47. Danny Brown :: Old

48. Cults :: Static

49. Cate le Bon :: Mug Museum

50. Toro Y Moi :: Anything in Return

Filed under Music Best of 2013 Indie Rock Dad Rock Beardcore

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The 20 Best Songs of 2013 for Real

I usually make a “Best of [the Year] for Real” mix CD for friends, but this was the year I stopped listening to music on CD at all, so now they’re just getting a playlist. Sorry, friends. Hop on the slow train of progress; the music’s fine.

Best of 2013 for Real on Spotify | Best of 2013 (extended edition)

1. Jim James, “A New Life”

2. Still Corners, “The Trip”

3. Vampire Weekend, “Step”

4. Cate le Bon, “Are You With Me Now?”

5. Junip, “Line of Fire”

6. Kanye West, “Blood on the Leaves”

7. Phosphorescent, “Song for Zula”

8. Cayucas, “Deep Sea”

9. Parquet Courts, “Borrowed Time”

10. Cass McCombs, “Brighter”

11. The Avett Brothers, “Every Morning Song”

12. Drake, “Furthest Thing”

13. Sonny & the Sunsets, “Green Blood”

14. Arcade Fire, “Reflektor”

15. The Orwells, “Who Needs You”

16. Pusha T, “Nosetalgia”

17. Foxygen, “San Francisco”

18. Yo La Tengo, “Ohm”

19. Futurebirds, “Heavy Weights”

20. Telekinesis, “Symphony”

Past years: 20122011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

Filed under Music Spotify Best of 2013 Indie Rock Dad Rock Chillwave Scarfwave Beardcore

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7-Month-Old Social News Site FTW Tops 8.4M Users, Gets A Makeover

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Fresh off of a record-high November (8.4 million unique users), seven-month-old social news site For The Win relaunches today. “Why so soon?,” you might ask. We want to make it better, is the short answer.

The longer answer is we learned a lot in FTW’s first 200 days. Most important is that mobile usage is out of control. FTW was a top 10 mobile sports site by July, outpacing bigger brands like FOX Sports, Deadspin, SI.com and Grantland. And FTW mobile usage outpaces desktop by a wide margin — half of overall traffic happens on phones alone.

Now we’re locked in on improving the small-screen experience, especially on phones. Let us count the ways with this refresh:

1. No Comments

People didn’t comment on FTW anyway — they just discover/read/share. That’s even more true of our mobile users. So we removed comments altogether, and it’s kind of liberating.

2. Public Chartbeat

We started using real-time analytics tool Chartbeat to track FTW, and our editors quickly became addicted. So we pulled the curtain back by adding a Chartbeat-powered “Top 5 Right Now!” box to every page. It shows trending stories in the moment along with exactly how many active users are on each one. Hopefully readers find it as adrenaline-pumping as we do.

3. Bigger Visuals

Many FTW stories are about just one thing, and those things are often interesting to look at. So we opened up our story template to allow for full-page, 1,000 pixel-wide videos, photos, graphics and GIFs. Big = beautiful.

4. Bolder Headlines

The web is crowded, and the social web is even busier still, so we put a lot of thought into writing headlines that stand out to reflect and serve our stories. The redesign shares that emphasis more than before.

5. Mobile Focus

FTW launched as a responsive site, and I could probably list a dozen little improvements we just made, but trust me that it’s tweaked and torqued to better serve “waiting in line” users.

6. More Social

FTW is all about social news, so we made tiny changes to reflect that too. For example, every story promo carries a share count so you can see what is/isn’t trending without having to click. How convenient!

More to come, and we’re still working out the kinks but I’m thrilled with where we’re at. Let me know what you think.

PS: To compare, here’s how FTW looked like before & after this morning.

FTW Before

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FTW After

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Filed under Sports Media Social USA Today Sports Media Group For The Win FTW Social Media Personal PR