ESPN Mobile and the art of the headline

I have been browsing the Internet on my mobile phone a lot lately for a variety of reasons.  95% of the time browsing the Internet on a Mobile device can be a frustrating experience.  You find yourself scrolling “down” a lot to get through huge mastheads and menus just to get to the content.  Even more annoying is when you have to scroll “right” to get to the content to get past ads and even more menu items that are on the page.  But every once in a while you stumble on a website that has a version designed for mobile phones (it is even better when they detect that you are on a mobile browser and redirect you to the optimized version of the website).  I was pleased as punch a few weeks ago when I stumbled on the optimized version of the ESPN.com site.  I found it after spending several minutes scrolling “down” and “right” on a different site looking for the score of the baseball game.


The site is wonderful with the navigation designed around the small screen.  They have optimized download speeds for the networks connections that you typically see on a mobile device (although I have the 3G network which is very fast).  What really got me was the “headline” on the site.  It is a small, tightly cropped image and a headline that is a hyperlink to the story.  There is about 1 headline per day, and it changes at different times of the day, but I have never seen one “up” for more than a day.  Here is an image of what the site looks like on a mobile phone (captured with the mobile device emulator, not Photoshop):


ESPNMobile 


I went to college to study journalism, specifically photojournalism (how I wound up with a couple of degrees in Information Systems is a story best told over a beer).  One of the lectures in my journalism 101 class that I remember to this day was about the art of writing a headline.  There are a number of rules of thumb involved in writing headlines (length, placement, punctuation, etc), but the overriding goal of the headline is to get someone interested enough to buy the paper (or in the case of a website, click the hyperlink to read the full story).  It is nice to see that ESPN.com’s mobile site has recaptured some of that lost art.

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