Welcome to the new eMedia Vitals
Welcome to the new eMedia Vitals: redesigned, redefined and ready for business. The new site has three major objectives:
1. Execute a new social media strategy
2. Have one design that works equally well on a desktop, smartphone and e-reader
3. Provide an example of innovation on a budget
Social media strategy
When it came to building community online and utilizing social media, we noticed one commonality among most media sites: more of the conversation about the content was happening among the social media ether than on the actual media sites. But most sites were focused on trying to get the conversation to take place in their environment.
Instead of trying to control the conversation, we wanted to do the opposite, by aggregating the community's commentary and facilitating the sharing of ideas. Our site now features reactions made on our site to content that we create and curate, while also aggregating the reactions that are posted to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. Today, you'll see this on the homepage river and topic pages, and soon you'll see it on article pages and blog posts.
We looked at the stickiest site on the Web - Facebook - and tried to pay homage to it. We also looked at what drove success at Digg and Reddit and attempted to incorporate those elements into the site as well, which led us to call out the total number of reactions to each piece of content on the homepage.
Mobile and iPad-friendly design
While we'd love to have an app for Android phones, iPhones/iTouches, iPad and all e-readers, it's not practical for us to launch all of those without a clear mobile revenue stream. Instead, we designed the site to work well everywhere. From typography and font size to the amount of white space between content in the center "river", the site attempts to create an engaging reading experience by reducing clutter.
We took some major risks with this design and disregarded some industry-held best practices. This was deliberate, as we wanted to demonstrate that there are more options for a media site than two or three columns and horizontal and vertical navigation bars. We made our navigation more easily accessible by placing it in a slide nav near the browser bar. Our homepage river (the white area) will feature a lot of aggregated content, while the left rail will feature our own content exclusively. Many would think that the amount of space given to curated content is too much, but we wanted readers to have easy access to the best ideas on the Web.
The ad positions are also innovative. Most media sites push ads out to the boundaries of the site and then charge advertisers premiums to use disruptive rich media creative to get into the middle of the screen. We view ads, when targeted properly, as something that readers actually want to check out, just like our content. So, instead of creating ignored placements and disruptive ones, we created in-line ad positions.
This allows users to see the ads as they browse the content normally and make a decision as to whether it's of interest or not. Ads are clearly labeled and distinguished from editorial and given equal prominence with our content. You wouldn't put all the ads in a magazine or newspaper in the back. So we're not going to push ads out to the ignored areas of the Web page.
For more on the specific features of the site, check out the teardown of the new eMedia Vitals.
Lessons learned after one year
When we launched eMedia Vitals in July 2009, we aimed to create an online community to help magazine and newspaper professionals reposition and revitalize their businesses. We quickly learned that nobody wanted another "online community" where activity is minimal and consists mostly of marketing posts from vendors.
Meanwhile, we saw a ton of new apps that helped filter, segment and manage the noise of social media conversations. So, we tried to turn eMediaVitals.com into a way for media professionals to access the content and conversations relevant to the professional part of their lives.
We will continue to iterate and develop new functionality in order to better execute on our objectives, and we'd love to get your feedback on how we're doing so far. So, drop us a "Tweet," "Like," "Comment," "Digg" or even an old school email at editors[at]vitalbusinessmedia.com!