Why We Redesigned The Content Strategist

If the marketing blogosphere were a college, there would currently be about 10,000 professors angling for tenure—and all of them would be teaching some version of inbound 101 or remedial content. Picture a dusty hall full of creaky desks, a syllabus full of old listicles and questionable stats, and the teacher droning on and on while the students pass notes in the form of Pitbull GIFs.

Then picture the Kool-Aid man bursting through the wall screaming, “OHHH YEAHHHHHHHHH!”

That’s us. We’re the Kool-Aid man of marketing pubs.

What’s that mean? Well, first and foremost we want to give you information you can’t find anywhere else on the Internet, and we want to do it every single day. Forget telling you that certain things work—we want to tell you why they work, how they work, and what’s going to work next. We’re going to continuously talk to the smartest people in our industry, and we’re going to tell you what we find out. Media is changing marketing (and vice versa), and understanding what it all means and how to take advantage means thinking beyond the tropes of the past.

We also aim to have fun because this is fun! The late, great David Carr put it best when he said, “Creating media content is a diverting activity that rarely resembles actual work.” And if you’re reading The Content Strategist, it likely means your job involves telling stories in some way or another.

There’s no reason that marketing content has to be dry or boring—after all, a good story is a good story, no matter what it’s about. Just because we’re writing about content marketing doesn’t mean we can’t use NBA metaphors or make fun of our own buzzwords. There’s no reason a story about ROI or legal approvals can’t have a few jokes in it. Marketers are humans too.

And there’s no reason a magazine about content marketing can’t look as good or better than the best publications on the web.

When we redesigned The Content Strategist, we didn’t just look at sites in our space for inspiration. Our design team spent weeks combing the Internet for the best reading experiences, a journey that took them from traditional publications like The New Yorker, to platforms like Medium, and even to startups like The Oyster Review. And what we found is that the sites we love all have one thing in common: They put the reader first.

That means eschewing bells and whistles in favor of simplicity and discoverability. It means saying no to more stuff. You won’t find 8 million modules jostling for space on TCS, just a clear and simple reading experience. And you won’t find us trying to trick you into clicking stuff for a cheap pageview. We want it to be painfully simple for our readers to find exactly what they’re looking for with a click of a mouse (or the swipe of a finger—35 percent of you are reading TCS from your mobile devices, something we hope the new layout helps with as well).

So what’s changed?

  • We’ve stripped out a lot of the aforementioned bells and whistles in favor of a lot of white space.
  • A slightly increased font size, because bigger letters make it easier to read.
  • We’ve added a dual drop-down navigation, from which you can go to either topics (like ROI or Social) or industries (like Finance, Tech, or B2B). We’ve also created dedicated homepages for each of those categories and topics.
  • There’s a new universal search functionality, easily accessible at the top of the page.
  • We’ve added a resources section (in the top nav) for deep-dive content, and for readers to learn more about what Contently does.
  • We’ve added a “Popular this week” list to the bottom of each article.

And there will be more to come. We’re constantly thinking about ways to improve both our content and our design, so please do let us know what you like and what you don’t. (That’s why Twitter was invented, right? #TCSRedesign.)

At Contently, we talk a lot about “building a better media world,” which sounds like something out of Silicon Valley, but it’s true. We believe in helping people tell amazing stories instead of polluting the web with mediocrity, and in the power of ditching intrusive advertising in favor of great media experiences. The Internet is what we make it, and we want to make it awesome.

-Sam Slaughter, VP of Content (@samslaughter215)

-Joe Lazauskas, Editor in Chief (@joelazauskas)

Image by Deb Wenof

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