Hearst Publishing has verified today that the company’s entire magazine library will be undergoing a dramatic change. Hearst intends on employing a new design to all of its standalone websites to appeal to any sized screen on a mobile device, tablet, or PC. Tom Smith, Hearst’s vice president of technology and strategy, called the new initiative a “responsive design.”
The new design strategy is a total makeover of Hearst’s digital properties and already has completed RoadandTrack.com and TownandCountryMag.com. You can see from the shift that there is strong social media elements. Another factor will be allowing the editors and writers to engage in something quite new to digital magazines. Depending on what device or demographic the reader belongs to, the name of the articles could be custom tailored to suite that specific group. It is not quite A/B testing, more like the site and some of the content will change depending on what age group or mobile device they are visiting the site with.
One of the aspects of that I really like about the new design is the sheer amount of pictures. Instead of having a small picture and text laying underneath it, like most websites and blogs present the data, they do something else. You can hover your fingers on a tablet or scroll your mouse over it, and you will get a ‘read more’ prompt. For magazines that are very image heavy, this is a very nice way go about the digital experience.
It is a bold new direction and something Hearst is really looking to take advantage of. In the long-term, you figure it would be easier to update one website instead of the mobile, HD, and other variants. The company has confirmed that Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics, Good Housekeeping, and Esquire will undergo similar treatment shortly.