We've redesigned TheAtlantic.com. What do you think?
From the beginning of the project, we've had the fundamental question in mind of what this site is—which is to say, both what it's become (as regular readers know, a lot's changed here over time) and what we want it to be. Is it the website of a magazine? Is it a news site? Is it, as James Franco possibly once suggested, a blog?
The answers, we recognized, are all in one way or another yes. But we figured we'd try a thought experiment: What if we described TheAtlantic.com as a direct, dynamic, digital extension of our core identity in journalism—as a real-time magazine?
That seemed to us both authentic and aspirational: an idea that captured what The Atlantic has been doing in new media for years and a framework that could bring the right focus to rebuilding TheAtlantic.com now.
So here's what we did:
We created a site that makes a new priority of visual presentation, that offers a cleaner reading experience across digital devices, and that gives us the flexibility we need, both in our articles and on our homepage, to join the speed and urgency of the web with the noise-cutting and impact that have always been central to The Atlantic's ambitions.
The new homepage is composed of full-width modules each representing either one big story or a constellation of connected stories. We can move these modules up or down the page, allowing us, among other freedoms, alternately to lead with the urgency of our news coverage or the impact of a big feature, according to the needs of the moment.
It also allows us to give full play to the same urgency and impact below the top of the page. As you return to the site, you'll find different homepage modules in different orders with different kinds of stories in different combinations. What you won't find, we hope, is the impression of diminishing importance as you scroll down.
Neither should you find yourself disoriented. So rather than placing stories arbitrarily adjacent to one another, we're using each of these modules to display a single story or a group of stories that are in some way related. This approach is inspired by the emergent logics of scrolling and swiping in mobile media: The vertical axis of the homepage represents a logic of exploration (scrolling); the horizontal axis, a logic of connection (swiping). A good magazine should, after all, help us keep our bearings.
Our new article pages are likewise more visually engaging and flexible. We're using larger images, and better image integration, with a fuller range of options for bigger feature stories, as well as more controlled templates for quicker hits, which we'll sometimes need as The Atlantic moves fast in trying to make sense of a rapidly changing world.
We've thought about the logics of exploration and connection on the article pages too: Next to our stories (horizontally), you'll find links to related articles; below the stories (vertically), you'll find links to normally unrelated articles, or for that matter photo essays or videos, currently popular on the site.
Maybe most conspicuously, across TheAtlantic.com, we've replaced our old nameplate and navigation bar with a simple new flag bearing our logo, options to subscribe or search the site, and an expandable menu. This treatment is influenced by the way the logo is set on our monthly covers; the minimalistic integration of the subscription, search, and menu functions is based both on extensive user testing and our guiding dedication to keeping signals high, and noise low, around our brand and our work.
Oh, and the typefaces are new. Hawk-eyed readers will recognize the display and text fonts, both Lyon, as the same ones we use in print.
I'll add, we've done this entire redesign in-house, with the commitment of more than a dozen people, from our product and edit teams, over more than six months. But we're looking at today's relaunch as an inception more than a culmination. We'll watch to see what works and how; we'll adapt to what we learn; and we're already at work building new things. An enhanced News section, drawing on and supporting all our topical sections, will be one. Our Projects section (the heir to our Special Reports), where we'll do ambitious series and other undertakings, will be another. A new suite of newsletters will be another still. In fact, we're debuting the first of them now, The Atlantic Daily. Please subscribe.
Meanwhile, we're planning to do more with reader engagement than we've been able to do in a long time. Which we'd like to take a first step toward here with the email address I linked to at the top of this note: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to hear from you.