Ye Olde Magazine Website

With the relaunch of Vogue.com, I thought it would be worth discussing a few magazine’s websites. After all, they must convert web traffic into subscriptions (or ad impressions), a tricky balance between print and digital familiar to those of us in the trade industry. At an admittedly smaller scale, of course.

Vogue.com is the highest profile relaunch this year, and it looks like they’re emphasizing photos and video above all else. The top carousel would be more compelling if it didn’t read “Advertisement” on the arrow-tabs. Intentional? Or bad metadata? Thanks either way for telling me not to click through.

I jumped right to the Culture section, and was happy to see their Books coverage topping Film and Music. How often does that happen? Most magazine and culture aggregators prioritize books slightly above AM radio.

The name of the game is certainly email subscriptions. One must register to use their “lightbox” feature, which isn’t enough of a value add for me, but could be for others.

Which brings us to GQ.com, another feather in Condé’s cap. My friends know I’ve been a GQ reader since, well, birth. Blame Dad.

I was a fan of their site’s previous iteration as Men.Style.com, which shared content with Details. This meant more content, but weaker branding. Guess which one won out in the relaunch? Now most of the print magazine’s articles are repeated as blog posts, which means you turn off your core audience while weakening your subscription argument to the fence-sitters. On top of this, there seem to be no benefits to giving your email address, other than redundant advertiser surveys.

Like everything else, they need to play to the strengths of the medium: Their periodic “30 Days of Style” package is smartly produced, with an ingenious mix of editorial, video, and community engagement. It can’t be done in print and I bet it drives site registration through the roof. They also do a good job with the random guest-blog by a comedian.

Others? I find Wired is too vertically-oriented, attempting to over-categorize their blogs and sections. The New Yorker site and blogs are content-rich and well-organized, setting the standard for everyone else.

What do you think? Are there others that succeed or fail?

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