The Atlantic, Online and in Print

By James Fallows

1) We've had another of the periodic refreshes of our web design. You can see the old look if you click on the name of one of our writers -- for instance, the Ta-Nehisi Coates author site. You can see the new look if you click on the headline of any particular item or posting, like this (wonderful) one about Ta-Nehisi's experiences on arrival in France.


The new look has bigger fonts, wider "leading" (white space between lines -- legacy term from the days when type was set on strips of lead), and narrower text columns. Together these are intended to give it a lighter, more accessible feel. As part of the transition, the "Previous" and "Next" buttons of the old design, which took you to earlier and later posts by a given author or in a given channel, have been removed. Apparently our web metrics showed that not many people used them.

In keeping with my misfit nature, I personally used these buttons all the time. As a public service for any others in this predicament, here's the E-Z workaround for seeing a sequence of posts by a specific writer. If you're reading an item by Ta-Nehisi Coates about his experiences in France and want to see what else he has written in this vein, you:
  • Click on his name, at the very top of the item, to get a newest-first stream of all his postings, in "classic look" smaller-font layout;
  • Just read them that way; or 
  • Scroll to the item just before or after the one you were previously reading, and then click on that item's title. Repeat as needed.

Now you know.


2) An idea on comments. A reader sends this suggestion:
I just renewed my mail subscription to the Atlantic. [JF reply: Thank you.]

So it occurred to me: what if you had a comments section (even if just on some posts) limited to verified subscribers?  You might sell a lot of subs!  Would be a smart discussion too, I bet.

This is the first comments strategy that has some appeal from my point of view. Probably technically too complex to implement, but an interesting thought experiment. For why I prefer to quote reader messages, rather than enabling comments, see here and here.

Thumbnail image for mag-issue-largeMar.jpg

3) Speaking of subscribing, on the flight from DC to Los Angeles several days ago I sat next to a woman who had bought our latest issue at the airport newsstand. After she finished a few hours' work on her computer in first part of the flight, she pulled out the magazine and read it carefully cover to cover. I sat there, discreetly watching, and beaming positive thoughts in her direction. When she reached the last page she pulled out the (hated by everyone, but effective) blow-in subscription card and put it in her purse.

As the plane headed in for a landing I dared ask her how she'd liked the magazine, and explained why I was asking. "That is a great issue," she said. And she was right. While of course I love all issues of our magazine, I think this one really is exceptionally strong from very beginning to very end -- in range, surprise, execution, and refreshed look. Please do check it out.

Bonus incentive: in this issue you'll see the answer to my version of the Andrew Sullivan "View from your window" contest, which I posted in January.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/03/the-atlantic-online-and-in-print/274396/