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.
Publisher and Acting Editor