New York Magazine Web Redesign: The Elephant in the Room

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So New York Magazine debuted their new homepage yesterday, and from what I can tell, the internet is underwhelmed by the change.  Even the magazine itself is asking us to be patient, and I’m not sure why. Below is the before and after of the homepage.

Before:

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After:

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It’s true there isn’t much of a shift, but there’s a huge aspect of this website nobody else is talking about: the mobile version.

I don’t know why people aren’t reviewing the mobile version of the site. In fact, it’s kind of shocking – mobile news consumption is spiking to legendary levels, and everyone is ranting about mobile journalism being “the future.” If you are starting a news platform, you need to make it for mobile. Doing otherwise would be shortsighted, considering usage trends.

So why the hell is nobody talking about the New York mobile site?

Screw it. I’ll do it. This website is killer and obviously took a lot of work. If you ask me, the website looks and operates better on a mobile device, making New York a powerful presence in the world of digital magazines.

Let’s explore.

New York’s website has adopted a smooth, intuitive responsive design. The spans and divs flow together smoothly, and there are three “snaps” when re-sizing. It’s no secret New York is dedicated to this design – last year they tried to pretend they weren’t totally committed to it, but I’m not fooled. Responsive is awesome: it’s easier to code (than say, 3 different apps for mobile software), it creates continuity between platforms and it looks damn cool.

And that intuitive thing: there’s a running argument about the effectiveness of mobile UX, and this is nothing new. Hell, there’s an entire acronym dedicated to the interactions between human beings and technology: HF&E, or Human Factors and Ergonomics. (Spoiler alert – I’ll have a blog about this next week.)
My argument is that New York’s website is positively ergonomic. There’s only 4 swipe directions on the x and y axes, and the website is designed to promote that swipe. Look at this screencap from my phone.

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See how the second story is cut off from the right? The second I saw it I knew I had to swipe right, which led me to a revolving queue of top stories. Also see the same cutting effect at the bottom of the frame.

Also easy to comprehend is the tabs at the bottom of the frame. I don’t know what they mean (I’m not a regular reader) but made sense to snap through them. See how they’re framed? They look just like tabs in a web browser. There’s that UI/UX culture I was telling you about. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

Is that intuitive enough for you, ladies? Needless to say, I’m endlessly excited for New York Magazine – they keep moving up. They just won the Cover of the Year Award from ASME over the summer, and I don’t think they’ll be stopping this excellence anytime soon. I can’t believe I worked in the same office building as them.

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Instagram’s Fetish for Fashion Week

Anybody with any sort of journalism experience knows that mobile, crowdsourced, and pro-am reporting is becoming more important than ever.

But, just like always, nobody talks about how mobile reporting is tossing up the magazine world. This year, mobile proved to be a valuable asset for magazines at one world-renowned and utterly fabulous event: New York Fashion Week.

Fashion Week or NYFW (#NYFW) is singlehandedly the most important event of the year for fashion magazines, especially those based in New York. It happened the week of September 9 this year. For those of you who aren’t aware of Fashion Week, you probably should be: for one week each year, all of the world’s most famous fashion designers come together in New York for a week of runway shows, gorgeous models, self-indulgent parties and rabid-live blogging. The main purpose is to show off all new lines of ultra-expensive clothing, just in time for the new fall season. Everybody shows up, including celebrities, designers and models.

And how.

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It’s so important for magazines that several devoted special issues to Fashion Week, often with several hundred pages. This guy even dropped acid and attended a runway show in the name of journalism (sort of.)

Like I mentioned in a previous post, branding is a deeply important aspect of magazines. In the industry, tight budgets are demanding a tighter grip on the audience, and several magazines have nailed it perfectly with this frickin’-sweet app you might know: Instagram.

By having a constant, intense feed of photos that expand beyond selfies, several magazines turned their Instagram accounts into mobile traffic drivers that reflect the visual style of their own brand. Check out some of these shots:

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Click on any one of those photos and look at how many people have interacted with them.

It’s complete genius. Look at Instagram by the numbers.
-There are 58 photos uploaded every second.
-Instagram gains one new user every second.
-Growth is spiking and hasn’t plateaued.
-Instagram hit 100 million users in two years. It took Twitter and Tumblr five years to get that many.
-Of Instagram users, 53 percent are female. If you ask me, that statistic is way convoluted. I only know like two other guys with a ‘Gramz.

So what better way to hit millions of girls and women who want to attend fashion week than give them a feed straight to their phone? Also, you can interact directly with the designers who obviously have Instagram and a buttload of dedicated followers. It’s a beautiful photographical social media orgy that magazines are definitely enjoying. 

Check out these great feeds from ElleVogue, and Mercedes Benz. Addenum, 10/1: Here’s a story from MPA about publishers and Instagram. 

Plus, being the reporter assigned to “Instagram all of Fashion Week” can’t be so bad, right? After all, you might meet Pharrell. (read: “dream job.”)

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