Staying on Topic
Posted: 1/2/2014  |  By: Nu Yang
Last September, the Washington Post launched Topicly for users who want to consume news in a visual way. Designed to be mobile-first, the product is powered by proprietary technology to give users timely news by displaying popular topics with visuals as the lead-in.  

Executive producer and senior editor of digital news Cory Haik said the concept is to “dig deeper” into the news stories and show readers where the news is—the more content that is published about a topic, the higher the topic appears in the display.  

Topicly operates on a rolling, 72-hour display of the most-published content. According to Haik, all Post journalism, including stories, blog posts, photos and videos, are processed in 15-minute snapshots. Readers are introduced to a series of photos. When they hover over the images, the latest headline appears. Readers can click on the photo and be directed to the list of stories under that certain topic. They also have the option of opening a menu on the top right bar that show the topics in list view and see how many pieces of content have been published on a topic over the course of the 72 hours.  

“Users are spending more time on Topicly,” Haik said. “We’re seeing a higher engagement rate and see more people clicking around the site.”  

Topicly is also another opportunity to create revenue. Advertisers can sign-up to be a sponsor and they can take advantage of the same technology seen on the website. “The look and feel is the same as our page,” Haik said. “It’s not like a disruptive banner ad. It’s not intrusive at all.”  

Coming up for Topicly, Haik said her team will be working on social integration. Her goal is to make Topicly a “signal machine,” telling readers what is the news. By integrating a reporter’s Twitter feed, it shows readers what Post reporters are tweeting about the most and it will help shape the product, said Haik.  

Haik said she expects visuals to keep growing on the web. “You have to think visually to quickly engage and share with your readers,” she said. “We know from our own work, readers are more engaged with content if there are visuals with it. We now have these devices (tablets and smartphones) that allow us to show these beautiful displays. We’re building that experience into our journalism.”  

Readers can access Topicly on the Post homepage at washingtonpost.com.