Friday , August 18 2017

From the (acting) Editor’s Desk: Refocusing Ausdroid where it matters

ausdroid award winning tech

You may have noticed more than a couple of differences at Ausdroid in recent weeks, and potentially over the last couple of months. 2016 has been an interesting year for us, but to keep this project interesting to you, and to us, we’ve had to make a couple of changes. Some you’ve welcomed, others less so, but I would like to take this opportunity to identify some of the things we’ve changed, and to talk about the reasoning behind it.

A broadening focus

Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, you will have noticed a broadening of the topics we cover on Ausdroid. What started as a website purely for phones quickly grew into coverage of tablets, and from that, beyond the boundaries of just Android related news to accessories, and then into broader Google commentary including Chrome OS, Google’s cloud services and more. In the last twelve months, we’ve grown beyond that too, to include laptops and gear that doesn’t run Android, but which compliments it. We’ve pushed the envelope further with a couple of motoring reviews too … and quite understandably, that has raised a few questions.

On one hand, we have to maintain the interest of those who contribute to Ausdroid. Writing about just mobiles and gear for six years has been fun, and we need to keep it fun. We’ve grown from just being a blog to being a fairly well respected source of news and more, and with that our team has grown too.

We don’t just want to write about some new app you’ve never heard of (and don’t want to hear about), or some new feature that hardly anyone will use. There’s plenty of other sites that will write about minutiae like that, and you know where to find them. We want to bring you stuff that actually matters, that’s actually interesting.

Equally, we don’t want to pivot into the full trifecta of tech, lifestyle and cars. There are plenty of sites that do this; some do it well, and some do it rather poorly. I think everyone at Ausdroid would agree that we do tech coverage well, and we can probably work a bit of other coverage (including lifestyle, cars, and whatever) into that.

Better still, we can include in our focus those things we used to do more of, but then moved away from. Ausdroid’s guides and modding content has always been popular, and we can definitely continue to cover that stuff.

While we do want to expand beyond tech, that’s where we started, and that’s where we will remain true. Ausdroid’s focus has always been, and will always be, technology. If we can slot the odd review of a car with great technology into that, we will. If we come across a lifestyle topic that’s firmly rooted in technology, we believe that’s a natural fit.

Ausdroid will be, first and foremost, technology before all else.

Revisiting our categories

Every news website categorises its content to make it easier to find. Ausdroid does this, and we’ve had (at some times) up to 31 different, sometimes overlapping content categories. This is plainly ridiculous.

We’ve trimmed this significantly, so that our content is now easier to discover and navigate. You can see these new categories in our site menu (look up the top of this page). Some of the main ones include:

  • Android, Modding and OS Updates
  • Apps, Games and Services
  • Mobiles and Carriers
  • Smart Accessories (including VR, Wear, and Smart Home)
  • Tablets, Laptops and Chrome
  • Tech on the Road (including cars, Android Auto, and travelling gear)

In the future, depending on feedback, we may start to use these categories to break Ausdroid’s news feed into a magazine-type format, with focus areas on mobiles, apps and software, accessories and more.

Improving the signal to noise ratio

You may also have noticed in recent times we’ve focused less on posting a hundred stories in a day, and more on providing quality content. The draw of regular content spaced evenly throughout the day is obvious from a publication’s perspective; more eyeballs on content, more ads displayed, thus more revenue.

However, our statistics don’t lie. Following our previous approach — of just posting as much as we can — has not helped Ausdroid, and in 2016, it’s actually had a deleterious effect — having too much fluff has actually taken eyeballs away from Ausdroid. It’s not hard to understand why. Too much noise, not enough signal, the message gets lost. On days with a lot of content, the important stuff can get missed.

This isn’t good enough, and it makes Ausdroid hard to read.

Over the last month or two, but especially in the last couple of weeks, we’ve adopted a number of strategies to ensure our signal to noise ratio is much higher, and that the quality of what we post is higher too. These strategies include:

  • Scheduling content, rather than posting everything immediately. There’s a more steady stream of relevant content throughout the day. This allows us the opportunity to combine some smaller stories into one.
  • A round-up of less-worthy news items, instead of giving each their own separate story. The content can still be found, but it’s all in one place instead of having to read a dozen less-than-informative articles. We won’t do this every day, but where it’s warranted.
  • The return of featured content, allowing us to showcase the items we think you’ll be more interested in, and which we want to be more easily found.
  • A more selective editorial process, whereby things that others might cover, but which really aren’t newsworthy, either get rolled-up or not written at all. For example, if a carrier wants to announce new plans that really aren’t all that newsworthy, they’ve got their own ways to publicise that. We don’t need to mindlessly regurgitate their news.

This allows us to focus on quality content, in a timely manner, while taking the time to be judicious with reviews. No one respects an opinion formed in a few short days, but a well-formed, grounded review is worth far more. This is why, for example, our Pixel review was published a week or two after launch, not after four days hands-on time to coincide with a review embargo.

We respect embargoes, to be sure. We don’t necessarily publish when those embargoes drop. We have to make sure what we write is actually worth reading, and that sometimes takes time.

We have a lot of ideas about how to improve Ausdroid and to make it a better more engaging experience for you, but at the end of the idea, our ideas are only worth so much. We’d like your ideas too, which is why we went to our Patreon supporters first, and why we’re now engaging with the rest of you, our audience, via the website.

So please, let us know what we can cover that’s of interest to you and what isn’t, and how you think we can do better.

 

Chris

Publisher and Acting Editor

Ausdroid

 

Chris Rowland   Editor and Publisher

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17 Comments on "From the (acting) Editor’s Desk: Refocusing Ausdroid where it matters"

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Fred
Valued Guest
Fred
I’d suggest that you need to concentrate on what’s unique. Too often it looks like Android Authority of 2 hours ago. That means either unique content, or a unique viewpoint. Now, obviously Australian-centric content should be a core aspect – if it’s google and it sneezes in Australia you should be covering it (as it is, it tends to be derisory coverage). However it is difficult for you to get the drop on more worldwide android news, so instead I’d suggest you need to either have a particular emphasis, or you need to ‘go deeper’; more commentary, more thought, more… Read more »
montalbert_scott
Valued Guest
montalbert_scott

good thoughts Fred. We have discussed this approach before and think it may well be the path we take in the future. You must have been prophetic re the Android Auto though. You asked and overnight Google provided.

Fred
Valued Guest
Fred

Sometimes you just have to do/say something to make the opposite happen. Murphy’s Law, section 67, subsection 12, paragraph 3b.

The other example to look at is “TheInquirer” where they use a unique voice to carve out a successful niche. I often think Australia went from wanting to sound like Brits to wanting to sound like Yanks without ever actually wanting to sound like themselves.

TheCatMan
Valued Guest
TheCatMan

Love Ausdroid as my source of choice for news. So whatever changes you make, I will still enjoy and support. Thank you for a brilliant blog/website/whatever you want to call it.

Member
Guys, Love what you do and read every day. Dont have any concerns on content. Think it’s all great. However, something I have noticed creeping in is a lack of effective editing. Obviously I am completely ignorant of your editing / reviewing process so cannot comment on that but I can comment on the end results. More and more I am noticing errors or just plain odd structure to articles. To be fair, at the end of the day it, it’s a 1st world issue I have 🙂 , however it does lessen the “respect” that I view the site… Read more »
Chris
Valued Guest
So let me give you some insight to this. Almost everything that goes up on Ausdroid goes through a basic editorial process. We look for things like spelling, grammar, and reasonable flow to articles. Obviously some things get closer attention than others. For example, reviews are more closely scrutinised, whereas brief news articles are only looked at fairly briefly. Some things are more easily missed, for example. Spelling errors are usually picked up, as is grammar, but things do slip through. It’s something we’re very conscious of, and we do try to minimise the mistakes that get through, but the… Read more »
Member

Just to reinforce my point… The next article I opened was Scott’s review of the Moto Z…..

Assume he is missing a “though” in this sentence…

Guess what is missing? A headphone jack, and even I only had the phone for a week it did actually affect me negatively a couple of times.

montalbert_scott
Valued Guest
montalbert_scott

oops.. i restructured that sentence and accidentally deleted the though. my fault.

Qball
Valued Guest
Qball
I’ve been visiting Ausdroid since before I purchased my HTC Legend (I.e a while ago…). There have been times I’ve checked the site 10x a day just to get the skinny on the latest Nexus release. Other time, when Android news is pretty slow I might visit once every few days. Despite this, over many years I still visit and its because you guys keep coming up with articles worth reading. I firmly believe that the best articles you put out are those that contain YOUR opinions and experiences (I especially love your re-visit type reviews that cover your experiences… Read more »
Member

I totally agree with the second paragraph here. For those of us who might not be “cutting edge” adopters of new devices, these revisits of phones after 6 months provide a really useful insight that isn’t available anywhere else.

Chris
Valued Guest

Definitely. We’re happy to do this where we can; it requires us to have kept the device and not returned it, and to have the time to revisit. For more popular phones, this isn’t too much of an issue, but for mid-tier phones, we don’t always (get to) keep them.

wintermute000
Valued Guest
wintermute000

Just an idea, you could start following modding news (basically XDA highlights), though that may prove to be onerous as its so device specific. But well written one-off guides e.g. how to root and TWRP and CM13 the latest XYZ phone could be worth it and draw a lot of traffic if Google gives you a higher placement.

montalbert_scott
Valued Guest
montalbert_scott
I try to follow as much as I can. The problem with instructional stuff is that it is often specific to certain devices so I stick to the main ones- Pixels, Nexuses etc. I am happy to look into other devices as required but prefer to test things out first myself and i only own nexuses and a Pixel. We are always open to suggestions of things to cover as well if there is something in particular you find confusing or difficult or think may be a worthwhile undertaking. I have been a bit absent the past 12 months due… Read more »
Chris
Valued Guest

We have found this previously, which is usually the approach we take. Scott is all over the modding scene.

Member

Cars are OK when you focus on Android Auto. It would be wrong not to. You seem to have dropped pointing out freebies on Google Play and I, for one, found that very useful.

Chris
Valued Guest

Thanks Greg. We will post these bargains when we find them, and when there’s room to squeeze them in!

Charles Kane
Valued Guest

Above all when you write about something, anything – dig deeper. There is too much fluff which we all can read anywhere.
Too often the first one or two paragraphs amounts to just filler. Don’t write about why you want to write something – just write about it from the get go.
Don’t, ever, rely on press releases or the guff that comes from the maker.

Really, cars is pushing it, and not in a good way.
Where are your women writers?

Good luck.

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