After an 18 month labor of love, we formally launched the new version of our website today. Here are six things I’m proud of:
1. The team used every opportunity to engage you, our audience, in the new site’s conception, testing and rollout. So your highest priorities were our highest priorities. Beta versions of the site have been used for several months and as a result many key tweaks have already been made.
2. The new video player gives each talk a whole new sense of drama and cinematic power. Many of our speakers spend months preparing the talk they unleash on the world at TED. Our new video player — and the photos, headlines and graphics around it — have been scaled to reflect the significance of their effort. If you believe in the power of ideas, the visuals of our site should reflect that.
3. It’s now possible to mark talks to “watch later.” That creates a personal queue of talks for you. In our modern lives, the moment you discover a talk and the moment you have time to actually watch it may be very different. So this allows everyone to be more intentional in their use of the site. The same feature retains a record of the talks you’ve viewed for future reference.
4. Then there’s the ability to “see your influence.” Go to any talk page, and right next to the view count is a button that gives you your own unique URL for the talk. You can copy it with a click and then share the talk using it however you wish… on Twitter, email, Facebook, etc. As soon as someone clicks on one of these links and hits play, you’ll see a record of the number of views that came from you. It looks like this:
It’s quite exciting and addictive to see that a link that you’ve sent out into the world can find a life all its own and get passed along to bring in new viewers you never knew about. I was testing this a couple days ago with an email, and the number of views I generated quickly rose to 44, then got stuck about there for a long time. But when I came back, the count had quickly increased above 200. Someone I sent it to must have done something with it to cause the new lift. Our site’s mission is “ideas worth spreading,” and now for the first time, you can track your own role in supporting that effort.
5. We’ve added resources to allow people to dig deeper into topics after watching a talk. This is core to what we stand for. An 18-minute talk can get you intrigued and excited about an idea. But it certainly can’t tell you all you need to know. It’s not a book or a scientific paper. So we’ve invited our speakers to give us their recommendations for what else people should investigate if they’ve been excited by the talk. So now a growing number of talks have recommended reading lists like this one. And many also have further editorial content covering new developments since the talk, the context in which the talk was given, controversies surrounding the talk, and ways to take action if so inspired. Here’s an example from Larry Lessig’s talk on political corruption. (You can expect to see these features blossom further over the coming months.)
6. The tone of the site has been tweaked a little. Occasionally people who don’t know us too well got the impression from the old site that we took an overly lofty approach to our mission. So we’ve sought to make clearer that the pursuit of great ideas is a journey, not a destination. Ideas themselves don’t arrive fully formed. They’re always provisional, and can be improved through debate, and with input from a wide variety of skeptics and practitioners. We want the site’s voice to reflect that. So, for example, we’ve playfully added an asterisk to our mission statement, “Ideas Worth Spreading.” If you reload the site you’ll see a rotating range of comments attached to that asterisk. Here are a few.
None of this negates our conviction that ideas are the world’s most powerful force of change. It’s simply an acknowledgement that no one individual or organization has a monopoly on knowing which ideas are worth spreading and which are worth shredding. We want TED to attract people willing to join the conversation and help us all get wiser together.
There are numerous other additions. Improved profile pages, interactive transcripts, a new talks navigation page, much better compatibility with mobile devices, and so forth. And many more to come. I hope you enjoy the site, and that you let us know which parts you’d like to see more attention paid to!