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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Vanity Fair’s New Logo (Kate Upton is Still Gorgeous)

So when it comes to fashion magazines, reputation is everything. Of the top names in the business, one is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this month: Vanity Fair.

And to celebrate, they really have gone all out.

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Notice something? Anything besides Kate Upton sporting a Monroe-esque hairdo?

After years with their iconic font, Vanity Fair has officially changed their logo – and interestingly enough, they’ve gone in a direction opposite of other industry leaders.

Here’s the old logo:

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And here’s the new:

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See the difference? The new logo is a serif font.

What I’ve noticed recently is a design shift towards sans serif fonts. This may be driven by a number of reasons, from the demand for futuristic fonts for digital publishing to the crackpot argument that sans serifs are easier to read.

Either way, the font is a wise move in my opinion: while iconic, the old Vanity Fair logo was very 80’s-chic, and for a younger reader, it probably invokes images of Francophone-themed winter sports posters hanging in their mother’s bedroom.

At least that’s what it does for me.

But then there’s the cultural standpoint: Fashion Week is coming in hard with vintage pieces, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. The film The Great Gatsby made flapperwear cool again, and Gatsby-themed parties – while horribly, terribly ignorant – are all the rage. Also, all of the other major magazines, like Elle and Vogue, have strong, timeless serif logos.

My only lament about this rework is that I still can’t read Vanity Fair in my student union without being judged.

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Dammit.