BtoB hits refresh button

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A retooled edition of the Advertising Age website went live at late Monday evening, marking the site's first major redesign in almost five years. (AdAge, like Digital Directions, is owned by Crain Communications Inc.)

One of the most obvious visual changes is the elimination of a navigation column on the left-hand side of each page, which opens up two thirds of the width of each page for articles and accompanying photos and graphics. To accommodate a second horizontal navigation bar at the top of each page, the Advertising Age logo was scaled down. Digital Directions spoke to AdAge Editor Abbey Klaassen about the highlights of the new design.

Digital Directions: You have been covering digital media and marketing as a writer and editor in the six years you've been with AdAge. What ideas did you glean from your reporting that you were able to incorporate into the redesign?

Klaassen: One of the themes that runs through our coverage is how publishers are using social media and sharing tools to attract audiences, so we wanted to make those more prominent on the site. We are one of the first media sites to implement Twitter's @anywhere framework. We now have author pages for our writers and columnists, and @anywhere is incorporated so that anyone can quickly view [the authors'] latest tweets [without leaving the page]. Audience members can also add @anywhere to their profiles and the feature will show up every time they make a comment. They will also be able to link from their comments to their own blog or website.

The idea of the author pages is based on another trend we've seen, where editors and reporters are becoming brands.

One of the most important things I've learned from the great Internet companies we've covered is the notion that we can always be in beta. We can launch something new and then continually iterate and improve upon it. For example, you'll be seeing more and better photos and graphics in the future.

DD: In addition to the horizontal navigation bars below the logo at the top of the page, you have additional navigation bars farther down the home page and main channel pages. This is unusual. Why?

Klaassen: One of our goals was to make it easier for people to find content. We have a mini navigation bar about half way down the page that repeats the names of our channels and helps people move quickly from one to another. This bar functions like a carousel, where the user can click to the left or right to see more options. We have a similar bar for our columnists and columns. We have a different set of bars that open or close to [reveal or hide] content. Currently, we have one of those for our Super Bowl Special Report. Farther down the home page, we have a larger carousel that lists all of the major reports we do throughout the year.

DD: You've designed the pages so that the most recent story will now automatically flow to the top of the page while others follow in reverse chronological order. Why?

Klaassen: We publish 12 to 15 pieces of content each day. That wasn't always apparent in our old design. Now, in our default display, the most recent stories will show up near the top of the home page, regardless of the channel. We also have the option of [manually] pinning stories in place if we think they're important. Another change we made was to pull AdAge China into our Global News channel. That was a paid subscription newsletter until last week.

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