2022 has been a busy year for the product team at Rest of World. We’ve collaborated with our colleagues across the organization to design and develop editorial enterprise projects, create fun, custom story treatments, deliver new website features, launch a couple of newsletters, and extend our reach to Telegram and Mastodon. As a wise developer once said, “we may be small, but we be mighty.”

This is a roundup of some of our favorite editorial product team stats, projects, and product features of the year.

Stats (of the year)

About You (the audience) 

  • Our most popular article overall was: Inside the scandal at Flutterwave, Nigeria’s fintech champion. It accounted for 3.6% of total page views in 2022. 
  • You spent an average of 7 minutes reading: How to blow $85 million in 11 months: The inside story of Airlift’s crash, about the crash of an e-commerce platform.
  • Chrome on Android was the most popular browser this year, accounting for 25% of all page views, followed by Safari on iOS at 20% and Chrome on Windows at 12%. 
  • 65% of you visited the Rest of World site on your mobile device this year.
  • 38% of you visited the site from the U.S. 14% came from India, 5% from Canada, 5% from the U.K., and 2.6% from Pakistan, with many more from all over the globe. 

About Us (the product team)

  • We added 114,103 lines of code to our code base (including third-party libraries)
  • We drank 1,040 cups of coffee * 
  • We rolled back 1 release **
  • We rode 2 roller coasters

* Not the actual number. It’s probably more.
** We accidentally removed images from the site for 5 minutes. Hope you didn’t notice.

5 projects we are most proud of (this year)

As the Rest of World product team, we balance building the overall site experience with working on projects and custom treatments for stories in close collaboration with reporters and editors. There are too many projects to mention, but these are some of our favorites from the year.

1. Welcome to the Ambaniverse

A project of epic proportions, Welcome to the Ambaniverse was a labor of love and collaboration between the product team, editorial team, and Glenn Harvey, the illustrator. We used WebP for the first time to reduce the performance cost, and Anna, senior software engineer, developed the neat idea of spotlighting the illustrations as a user vertically scrolls. It was one of the projects we loved to hate (damn you, Safari!) but we were incredibly proud of the result, and it’s proven to be one of our most popular stories of the year.

2. How Chinese citizens use puns to get past internet censors

Describing some of the terminology used by people in China to dodge internet censors, this story was a simple and creative collaboration between Kathy, visual and UX designer, and Meaghan, China reporter, to tell the story in a simple and visually appealing way. Anna coded the project and added a neat custom animation to the headline.

3. Rest of World 100

This incredibly ambitious project took several months to conceive and develop, and was an enormous team effort. It featured our first use of dynamic page scroll, shareable cards for participants, dynamic filtering, and a beautiful champagne bubble effect on the landing page.

4. Blackouts

This award-winning project featured the use of chapters, custom navigation, video editing from Kathy, a cool CSS distortion effect, and a new glossary block, developed by Lily, software engineer.

5. Tech Markets

Our final big project to publish this year, Tech Markets, was led by Cengiz, our photo editor, designed by Kathy, and coded into life by Anna and Lily. It features a new color palette, a pastel extension of our current palette, an animated header, dynamic page loading, as well as custom navigation and share tools.

Honorable mentions

We kind of love everything we work on… these projects didn’t quite make the cut, but we’re still immensely proud of them.

  1. How to Buy
  2. Now that’s what I call Rest of World music!
  3. Diaspora communities reframe history, one Instagram post at a time
  4. An ancient language has defied translation for 100 years. Can AI crack the code?
  5. How football shirts chart the rise and fall of tech giants

5 favorite product features (of the year)

1. Conveyor gallery

We created a new block in WordPress to support images and video within a conveyor gallery on page, so that as users scroll the page images scroll into view alongside caption text. This breaks up the flow of a story and allows our photo editor, Cengiz, to create some beautiful and immersive visual experiences like this recent story about nickel mining in Indonesia and this story about crypto miners in Lebanon.

2. Glossary

We created a new glossary block in WordPress to give readers a quick overview of some of the terminology used within a story. You can easily scroll the glossary horizontally and tap the cards to turn them over, revealing more information on the opposite side. You can see the Glossary block in action in this Axie Infinity story and in this feature about the disappearance of Chinese mega-streamer Austin Li.

3. Stat block

The stat block was adapted from Stat of the Day and first featured in the How to Buy series as a way to quickly highlight key numbers within a story and give readers a little visual break while reading. We liked the feature so much that Lily built a variation within the quote block so that editors could continue to use it. You can see it in this article about how to buy a hijab in Jakarta, and in this news story about avoiding Russian military service.

4. Dynamic Loading a.k.a. Infinite Scoll

You may have noticed that when you’re reading a report or news story we now preload another article as you scroll to the end. Like the stat block, this experience first featured in the How to Buy series.

When we analyzed how that series had performed, our page view analytics revealed that users were engaging more deeply with the stories with this treatment. We figured that this was a good way to help readers stay engaged without disrupting flow, and help them discover more content while reducing cognitive load. We’ve rolled it out to all articles except features and those with custom designs, and we’re dynamically loading the most recent article by country and region.

5. Machine translations

We launched machine translations a couple of weeks ago. You can now read almost all of our articles in Spanish and Portuguese (and Irish). As we watch usage and receive feedback, we’re hoping to extend the translation service to more languages in 2023. We believe we might be one of the first news sites to do this in such an integrated manner, but you can tell us if we’re wrong. Want to know more? We wrote about its launch here.

Here’s to 2023

That’s it, thanks for tuning in! If you have any feedback or questions please feel free to reach out to us at product@restofworld.org. We’re looking forward to working on more cool features and stories in the new year. Happy reading in 2023.