Her Dec. 26 memo:
“Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” marked a cool moment in the evolution of our online storytelling.
“Beautiful” and “brilliant” were two words used an awful lot by readers and rivals both.
The story was born in the gifted hands of John Branch. The Sports and Graphics desks soon saw story-telling opportunities well beyond the print paper. Ultimately, the effort came to include the talents of Ruth Fremson, Jacky Myint, Hannah Fairfield, Joe Ward, Jeremy White, Xaquin G.V., Graham Roberts, Josh Williams, Wayne Kamidoi, Sam Manchester, Ken Plutnicki, Michael Roston and Lexi Mainland.
All that work produced a wildly new reading experience.
There are, of course, many ways to appreciate Snow Fall’s success and the lessons it might hold. Those behind the effort will soon put together a brown bag lunch for anyone interested in hearing how it came to be and why it stood out.
But some numbers and notions worth enjoying and considering in the meantime:
Ian Fisher noted with a smile after the preview for the project began rocketing around the Internet that, “Snow Fall handily triumphed in a category we never anticipated existing: most hits for a story that didn’t appear on our web site.”
More customary measures included these:
– The project was shared by more than 10,000 users on Twitter.
– It received around 2.9 million visits – some users coming back more than once – for more than 3.5 million page views. A huge portion of the traffic was from social media, and many of those visits came before the project was featured on the nytimes.com home page. The elegant home page design continued to attract our most loyal and engaged users.
– At its peak, as many as 22,000 users visited Snow Fall at any given time. Strikingly, a quarter to a third of them were new visitors to nytimes.com. They were quickly hooked: users spent around 12 minutes, often more, engaged with the project.
– More than half a million visits went directly to Snow Fall, and more than half of those direct visits were from new Times users (or readers who hadn’t visited the site in a long while) lured to our journalism by this feature.
In sum, then, people heard that The Times was doing something neat; they came in droves; and they stuck around for a while. We succeeded in creating a destination online that only increased in popularity when we put it on our home page. The Times is a premier online destination for news and information, but rarely have we been able to create a compelling destination outside the home page that was so engaging in such a short period of time on the Web.