New York, New York — December 23, 2015
Scientific American, the venerable 170-year old brand, gets transformed into a cutting-edge editorial platform for the 21st Century.
Scientific American is perhaps the most venerable of all American publisher brands. The name alone signifies authority and commands respect. It should since it’s been around for 170 years, making it the longest continuously published magazine in the U.S. To celebrate this landmark and capitalize on its booming mobile traffic, Scientific American was ready to create a digital platform worthy of its heritage.
As one might expect, Scientific American is a trusted resource for a wide audience of science enthusiasts, policy and business leaders, educators and researchers. These readers like to think of themselves as the smartest people in the room but the old site had a hard time meeting their needs and expectations. It was attracting a highly educated, younger demographic but wasn’t doing a good job of keeping them there, encouraging repeat visits or converting them into subscribers. The lack of a responsive design made it difficult to read on a mobile device, let alone sign up for additional products. The navigation lacked an intuitive, digital-first taxonomy and the visual design felt dated and out of step with the intellectual spirit of the brand. In short, the site needed a wholesale revamp to better engage users.
Architecture that meets user expectations and business needs
Scientific American tasked AREA 17 with meeting these challenges and we led the front-end of the redesign, delivering strategy recommendations, user experience design, art direction and client-side programming. Our strategy centered on creating more intuitive navigation, a modern and focused reading experience across all devices and using smart architecture to help the company monetize its vast ecosystem of digital content.
To get a better understanding of the areas of opportunity, we started by mapping out a user-centered strategy based on stakeholder interviews, detailed user archetypes, and in-depth analysis of the site’s audience and user behavior. Architecturally, our revamped navigational structure is more intuitive and focused on topics that users immediately understand instead of arcane sub-brands that make more sense in print than online.
Our user experience team also focused on creating a seamless editorial and e-commerce experience by making Scientific American’s main editorial content and additional product offerings work in tandem. Scientific American’s invaluable 170-year old archive gives it a vast platform of evergreen content to offer readers so finding ways to monetize this was a key consideration. To help users serendipitously discover and purchase back issues and other valuable digital products, we created contextual discovery and conversion points by placing touts to paid articles, archival products and subscription packages in the context of free editorial articles. Clear calls to action and simple purchase paths make buying, accessing and downloading additional content fast and frictionless. We made sure that signing up for tiered subscription plans as well as searching for otherwise hard to locate archival content was intuitive and painless. It’s now so easy for readers to find what they are looking for that a user can purchase the very first issue of Scientific American, and each one printed thereafter, in just a few clicks.
Bringing the brand to life online
Improving the reading experience and the look and feel of the site was a key component of boosting the brand’s equity. The art direction reinforces the brand’s premium status online, approximating the already strong visual identity of the magazine. Like it’s print companion, the site’s rich typography—based on Paul Barnes’ stunning English modern serif, Brunel—and its clean and uncluttered layout exude a sense of timelessness and keep the focus squarely on the writing and photography. The relaxed and luxurious layout better matches the brand’s intellectual tone and doesn’t overwhelm users with too many options of what to read next, instead employing restraint with focused modes of re-circulating content. We also proposed woodcut-style iconography for individual blogs and podcast series, adding a layer of visual richness and texture that’s rare online and further differentiates the brand.
A complete digital ecosystem
The new scientificamerican.com boasts a World-class, reader-friendly design worthy of the brand’s rich heritage and it looks just as good on a desktop as it does on a mobile device. It’s now optimized for e-commerce since users are introduced to additional relevant content and resources as they browse the content they want. Scientific American is now as compelling online as the magazine is offline.
New York — May 5, 2015
Recent redesigns net AREA 17 clients coveted 2015 accolades
On Tuesday April 28th we received notice that both the newly redesigned ESPN and Style.com received The Webby’s People’s Voice Awards. Having worked closely with Style.com to launch their first redesign in five years and ESPN to launch their first redesign in over seven years we are particularly proud to see our partners get the recognition they so richly deserve.
In the months since both redesigns launched — Style.com in September, ESPN in February — there has been much discussion about both projects as each has helped set a precedence for web design in fashion and sports, respectively. As Style.com editor-in-chief, Dirk Standen, said in the announcement of the new site, “we have sought to combine bold visual sophistication with a streamlined format that emphasizes an easy-to-scan feed of stories, tools that make sharing straightforward, and intuitive navigation that helps you discover more of the stories that interest you.” Or as Ryan Spoon, ESPN’s SVP of product development simply put it, “We really wanted to clean up the navigation and make it intuitive, easy to navigate, and consistent whatever screen you’re on.”
While both sites have been well received and have stirred healthy critical debate about the future of publishing online and off it’s always nice to be formally recognized by the folks who actually use the platforms on a daily basis. The Webby’s have been called “the internet’s highest honor” by the New York Times (amongst others) and the People’s Voice Awards garner millions of votes each year, keeping with the spirit of the open web. Nominees for People’s Voice Awards are selected by members of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) and then put in the hands of voters from around the world. With only 344 winners chosen from the estimated 926,530,422 websites servicing the 3,100,679,063 internet users worldwide, winning a Webby is no small feat.
On May 18th the winners will convene in New York, raise a glass, take a deep breath, and a quick moment to bask in the warm glow of their newly acquired Webbys. If you can’t make it to New York for the festivities you can catch all the highlights on the 19th on the The Webby’s YouTube Channel. Then, time to get back to mapping out the future of the internet and looking forward to the 2016 Awards.
AREA 17 — January 5, 2015
From coast to coast and country to country.
2014 was a big year at AREA 17. We had the opportunity to work with some amazing new clients, develop deeper partnerships with existing ones, have our voices heard from coast to coast (and country to country), soak up some California sun, and come back home again to expanding studios in Paris and New York. We wished a few old friends the best in new adventures and welcomed a cadre of talented new colleagues hailing from as far away as Dubai and Detroit and as close as Long Island and Brooklyn Heights.
We shot some photography and video, built a buy-now button for our hyper-local classifieds, Krrb, worked in conjunction with architect Renzo Piano, hung out with iconic journalist Charlie Rose, witnessed the launch of the iPhone 6 up close and personal, drank some Red Bull with the good people at Red Bull Studios, launched our Instagram feed, and kept on kicking out great new product with our friends at Facebook. All in all, we were ready for this holiday break, but can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store. But first, for posterity sake, let’s take a quick look back at 2014.
The winter found us spending a lot of time in Bristol, Connecticut with ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Sports, where we brought our design and development talents to the table in order to elevate the online reading experience, create seamless integration of scores and data, and organize massive amounts of content into easily digestible packages.
Bristol can be a barren, tough town in the dead of winter but leave it to our technology lead on the project, Englishman Mike Byrne, to discover beauty in all places. Inline skating, lots of visits from the AREA 17 team, and driving big American cars kept him more than happy. The team’s excitement and enthusiasm for this massive undertaking has us on the precipice of a brand new ESPN.com, set to launch in early 2015.
Meanwhile, back in New York, we launched the new Advertising Age in February. The redesigned homepage immediately reveals more of Ad Age’s stellar content without overwhelming while the article reading experience is now a true pleasure. Combined with the redesigned, fully integrated Creativity product, Ad Age is poised to remain an industry leader for years to come.
On the heels of the Ad Age launch we found ourselves in Austin, Texas in March for South by Southwest. Founder and global creative director, George Eid, was there to host the panel “User Generated Content: Who Owns What?”, After a “protracted back-and-forth with Craigslist” concerning content on Krrb, we were anxious to get to the bottom of this perplexing question. While we may not have found the answer the conversation sparked plenty of interesting debate.
As we jumped headlong into spring some of our team made their way to Cupertino, California to get to know the talented folks at Apple a bit better. Back in New York and Paris we worked diligently on the redesigns of Style.com, The Harvard Art Museums, StumbleUpon for Business, and “About.com”.
In Vancouver, British Columbia editorial director, “Andrew Wagner”, spoke of remembering where you come from at the “Fuel Conference” while in Montevideo, Uruguay, technical director, “Luis Lavena”, was honored for his guidance and support of the worldwide Ruby community.
We sped through summer at lightning speed, enrapt in our work while still trying to find time for much needed breaks. More than a few beaches were visited, new puppies found homes with various A17’ers, weddings were announced, and babies were born and others expected.
In New York we launched into our partnership with the Aparium Hotel Group while in Paris we continued our work with System Magazine, and delved deeply into the redesign of “Telerama Sortir”. Across studios we continued writing as much as possible for this blog (“and other venues”), and of course, designed like our lives depended on it—which, of course, they sort of do.
All that work paid off as the seasons changed. In September we launched “Style.com” just in time for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York. The clean, crisp design, refocused shopping experience, and the repositioned fashion editorial hub made almost as big a splash as Marc Jacobs at the Park Avenue Armory.
In October we launched “StumbleUpon Ads” closely followed by the reimagined About.com. And in November we excitedly launched “The Harvard Art Museums new site” alongside the opening of the new Renzo Piano Harvard Art Museums building. The understated yet stunning site design connects the new building with the web through powerful publishing tools for creating interactive tours and brings the collections to life with new search tools. The new site sets the tone for reimagined museum-going experiences world-wide.
On the heels of all these launches we continued our collaboration with Canal Plus in Paris as well as the talented French designer “Ora-Ito” on a shop to extend his existing presence. We also forged new partnerships with Arte, Le New Black, and a certain music company founded by Louis XIV in 1669.
Back in New York, following the successes of Billboard Magazine and “GLG” we continued our collaboration with “Pentagram”, working with Michael Bierut on Charlie Rose. We also announced new design partnerships with Red Bull Studios New York, Scientific American, The Charmant Hotel, Library of America and, just to bring things full circle, made plans to head back out to California.
So there’s 2014 in just over 900 words. Looking forward to seeing you all in 2015! Happy New Year!
by Michael Evamy
Laurence King Publishing
Contemporary graphic design
by Michael Evamy
Laurence King Publishing