Archive for July, 2013

Big Board Mini Hack

July 31st, 2013 by David

You're probably familiar with Big Boards – you use ‘em, you love ‘em, and they’re a super easy way of keeping everyone in the newsroom in the know about what stories are trending online.

The original Big Boards (nerd joke) were made so they would be easy to enhance and modify. We tried to do the same with our Big Board, so we open-sourced the code for you to tinker with to your heart’s content. We also threw in a few added functionalities that might not be so obvious... here’s one of my favorites:

Author List
If you’re using Chartbeat Publishing you can append “&group=author” to the end of your big board URL to get a leaderboard style list of all of your writers sorted in real time by how many people are reading their articles. It looks something like this, but with your actual writers instead of the names of some Chartteam members: (hmm... I seem to be doing quite well today) I know a lot of you are fans of the Big Board, so stay tuned for future Big Board hacks and projects.  

Webinar: Beyond the Click: Why Every Newspaper Should Be Focused on Time

July 30th, 2013 by Joe

I recently partnered with Ro Gupta from Disqus on this webinar for the Newspaper Association of America. Check out our discussion on topics like below-the-fold engagement, the value of consumption metrics like Engaged Time and how you can take advantage of readers who are spending time on your site and with your content. Follow up questions are welcome – post them in the Comments section and I'll get back to you.

Chartbeat Spotlight: Ben Stahl

July 24th, 2013 by Cat

One of the most common interview questions I get from candidates is, “What’s it like to work at Chartbeat?” There's no one right answer to this question, but I’m a firm believer in being honest with candidates about what to expect when you're part of the Chartteam.

I write up these spotlights to give people that extra layer of insight, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. I hope they show you why it kicks ass to work here and how different roles at the company contribute to the larger data pie.

Today you'll get to know Ben, our Marketing Engineer. He's seen Chartbeat evolve from a teeny tiny startup to a larger, much more “grown-up” business. Enjoy his inside perspective on what it’s like to grow with a changing company.

turbo-2

What Ben brings to the table:

After a stint in finance, Ben joined Chartbeat and took on a role with the Chartcorps, focusing on client support and user education. He used this position to understand Chartbeat products frontwards and backwards, but always had aspirations to be in a more technical role. So over two years ago Ben started his journey from “pretengineer” to engineer. He did this by reading every book he could get his hands on, taking courses and combing the depths of the internet for anything that would teach him how to write good code and not just copy it.

Ben attributes a lot of his learning to working in an environment that allowed him to ask a lot of questions and get constructive feedback from solid technical minds daily.

More than anything, Ben has worn a ton of hats here at Chartbeat, working with the Chartcorps, outreach, account management,  business ops, product management, and development. This type of exposure makes him a great Marketing Engineer because he can see past the lines of code and think creatively about the business.

So what cool things are you working on now?

Right now we’re working on a fun way for outside viewers to get a sense of Chartbeat metrics without having to put any code on their site. Concurrents and Engaged Time are the way we measure the web, and anyone should be able to get a taste of our metrics. We’re building a responsive page chock full of parallax surprises to hopefully provide an engaging experience for curious perusers to get an insider's glimpse at our tech .

What challenges are you facing as we continue to grow?

I think we deal with a lot of the same challenges most companies in our situation face. It’s about balancing having a great, growing crew of extremely hardworking people who care deeply about every aspect of Chartbeat but also letting go a bit of this culture where everyone has their hands in every aspect of the evolution and building process around every single product.

As a company we are constantly coming up with ways to keep team members involved and informed, and we may well develop our own secret sauce over time, but sometimes I’m bummed to miss the creation process and only get to see end results of our initiatives.

What have you learned working here?

I’ve learned a lot of things, but the one that sticks out most is knowing the difference between overwhelmed and whelmed is usually just a few questions.

One philosophy our CEO Tony  has promoted since Day 1 is to ask for forgiveness before permission. And so far it's worked out pretty well.

At Chartbeat, we all try things that may not be in our comfort zone or expertise, and usually come out in a better place afterwards. Back-end engineers write front-end code, data scientists sell the vision, and dogs do business. This is a place where learning is encouraged, always.

What’s the weirdest Chartbeat moment you’ve had so far?

Nothing weirds me out, but the day we introduced the ability to search a word or phrase and automatically have the first Google image result inserted into our less serious (bullsh*tting) HipChat chatroom things TOTALLY got weird. For the sake of the readers I won’t divulge details.

What's the best perk about working at Chartbeat?

Sure, it’s cheesy, but I think the best perk about Chartbeat is the people. We’re an eclectic mix of characters from all different walks of life and somehow we manage to have a lot of fun together.  We’ve got former polar explorers, radio talkshow hosts, velodrome racers, and biochemistry lab geeks.

Each person is uniquely different and that’s a great thing because we all add our own flavor to the mix and end up with a harmonious atmosphere. We challenge, impress, surprise and alter each other's perspective, but most of the time we just smile (and drink High Life’s) together.

Want to ask Ben a question about life at Chartbeat as our Marketing Engineer? Add your questions in the comments and he'll respond to you!

 

Did You Know: The Visitors Tab

July 22nd, 2013 by Clara

In life you only have one chance to make that first impression – and the same can be said for interacting with new visitors on your site. It's like going on a first date. Impress them with your good manners, and remember to hold doors open for them.

With Chartbeat, our data helps you learn about your site's new visitors and then wow them with strategic content choices.

NEW

The "Visits" tab in the Chartbeat Publishing dashboard is powerful way to find the breakdown between your new and returning visitors. Who are those folks who haven’t been on your site in at least the past 30 days? Click on the word "New" to find out where your new visitors are going in droves.

new filtered

The "Top Pages" list will then surface the places on your site that have the most new visitors. What articles are really resonating with those new viewers?

Find the articles with the highest percentage of new visitors. Those new visitors may never actually reach your homepage so treat those pages as portals for your newest readers to dig into your site and find the best content your site has to offer.

Add additional multimedia to create a richer experience and curate the related links so new readers have more to read on that topic. Give your new readers your best content so they have more and more reasons to stick around now and to come back again soon.

This is your chance to hook new readers so go ahead and shower, brush your hair and be the best you can be to capture the attention of your new audience.

 

Links We Like: Data Engineering

July 17th, 2013 by Jerry

At Chartbeat we're currently pushing to building out many new products. All of our work is focused on data. My part in that is ensuring our infrastructure is prepared to handle all of the data that we need to push through it. At peak on an average day, our servers handle about 130K requests per second. Even a new product that is, essentially, "just looking at the data in a different way" can require a lot of engineering. Our real-time focus has let us get away with keeping only aggregated data for historical look-back. As products evolve, this will need to grow to a larger and larger fraction of the full signal that we capture, which in turn will need a storage engine to handle it. Redshift is one of the tools we're looking at. A couple of recent posts have helped us out quite a bit while forging into new territory. As the ability to capture and store data becomes easier, simple engineering tasks around that data become harder. Take counting. Basic algorithms to count the number of distinct records in a dataset -- that is, assuming the dataset has repeats -- have been around for decades, but the simple ones assume that the subset of distinct items will fit in memory for one machine. That assumption is routinely broken by today's standards. Recently I've been brushing up on the ideas around probabilistic counting.