The NY Times & The Art of Surprise and Delight

Screenshot of the New York Times 52 Places to Go in 2015 article page, with a picture of a jeep with passengers on safari in Tanzania in the background
Foxie Rating - 4 Stars, Oh So Good!
When it comes to surprising and delighting an unsuspecting digital consumer, The New York Times achieves this with high marks via its 52 Places to Go in 2015 article page.

When I visited the page for the first time, I zipped past one destination after another, quickly taking in the gorgeous widescreen images and the name of the corresponding city, country or region.

When I got to #19 Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I paused to read the description.

Screenshot of a section of the New York Times article with the header, "19. Steamboat Springs, Colorado" followed by an image of a lakeside retreat (Strawberry Park Hot Springs) nestled in the snowy mountains. Beneath the image is a description paragraph about Steamboat Springs.

And that’s when I noticed something odd…

Were my eyes playing tricks on me?

Or was the water in the picture actually moving?!?

I laser focused on the ‘image’ and began to notice other things:

Steam rising from a geothermal pool.

Smoke piping out of a nearby tipi.

I immediately became enamored with the fact that Team NYT has sprinkled a dash of magic and life into a digital article — in a tasteful and non-obtrusive way.

And in a way that did not slow the page speed to a mind-numbing crawl.

I proceeded to scroll past other seemingly still images that suddenly sprang to life. And my swift and casual scroll of the 52 must-see locales of 2015 soon morphed into a bit of a scavenger hunt to find all of the videos hidden in the page’s digital haystack.

Some of my favorites include:

– #3 Philadelphia –

A time-lapse video loop of the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia at night.

– #44 Chengdu, China –

A video loop of a chef cutting gorgeously-thin noodles with a massive saw-sized knife.

To Add Awesomeness to Awesomeness…

The page is mobile responsive, beautifully and simplistically so.

Sadly, however…

The surprise-and-delight videos only play on a desktop browser; so smartphone and tablet users don’t get to partake in the awesomeness.

Which is oh so sad.

And too, too bad.

Seeing how it’s 2015 and all.