Welcome to Slate’s Redesign. Here’s What We Changed and Why.

The inner workings of Slate.
Sept. 22 2013 11:49 PM

Slate’s New Look

We’ve redesigned the site to make it more beautiful and easier to use.

Welcome to the new, fresh-faced Slate. This morning we launched our most comprehensive redesign in nearly a decade, featuring a new home page, new article pages, new fonts, new navigation, new sharing tools, and other new stuff. In fact, we changed just about everything except the content itself: Your favorite writers, blogs, videos, podcasts and columns are all still here—they just look better.

Why redesign Slate now? One reason is that Slate is much bigger than it used to be. We publish three times as many stories as we did five years ago. Where we once had a handful of blogs, we now have 19. Our new home page and navigation tools allow us to promote more of these stories, making it easier for you readers to keep up with every gem.

A second reason is that our mobile audience is much bigger than it used to be. The number of users visiting Slate from phones and tablets has nearly tripled in the past year. Our new design is responsive, which means it looks good on a massive monitor, but it also looks good on a humble laptop screen or a 10- or 7-inch tablet or even on your phone.

Finally, we did it because it was time. Over the years a website can become encrusted with gunk: Modules and widgets and text links and boxes wedge their way into every corner of the site. We wanted to start over and try a cleaner approach that would make a Slate page feel like a calm oasis in the helter-skelter of the Web. It looks pretty good, right? Doesn’t this article page feel spare and serene?

In order to make these changes, we enlisted Hard Candy Shell, a thoughtful design firm that brought bold visual ideas and a sophisticated editorial sensibility to the project. They worked closely with our product team, who used data and extensive testing to figure out where we could improve and how users would respond to the new site. (Thanks are due, here, to our beta testers: the 1 percent of Slate readers who’ve had access to the new look for the past month and have patiently helped us work out its kinks.)

For a little more on what we changed and why, let me walk you through the site. One thing you’ll notice is that Slate’s logo is much smaller than it was, and has shifted over to the right side of the page. Since you come to Slate to read our stories, not look at a logo, we wanted those stories to be the first thing you see at the top of all our pages.

The home page looks different too. In our old design, we had only one way to present stories, no matter what sort of news day it was. Whether there was a massive news event like the Boston Marathon bombing, or just a few smaller stories perking along, we showed one big image with four little ones below it. The great virtue of our new homepage layout is that it is actually many new homepage layouts. We can choose from several templates to accommodate the stories we have to share with you. The new design also accommodates our ramped-up publishing schedule by allowing us to showcase more stories at once.

three homepage templates

Although a home page that looks different from day to day may be disorienting at first, you will soon find your way around. The familiar list of our latest stories in reverse chronological order—beloved by Slate’s most diehard fans—has moved to the right rail under “Most Recent,” so you can see it without having to scroll.

Most Recent box

To find our section navigation (the latest stories in News & Politics, Arts, and the rest), click on those three horizontal lines to the right of the Slate logo. (We call that icon the “burger,” because it looks like a hamburger.) Clicking the burger will bring up a new navigation tool with links to our sections, our blogs, and all your favorite columnists. You’ll also notice that the logo and burger follow you down the page, which means you can get to the navigation without scrolling back up.

130921_SF_03_expandedNav2

The home page also features our blogs, our videos in a much bigger video player, our photo blog Behold, Doonesbury, and lists of our most read and most shared stories. We’ve added a few new navigation tools as well: photos of our columnists and their latest stories, and regular spots for our podcasts and for Dear Prudence.

The changes on our article pages are more self-explanatory. We cleaned up the cluttered right rail, replacing a concatenation of boxes with a single, streamlined list of stories you might like to read, some from Slate, and some from our partners. Our new headline font is bold, and the body copy font is crisp and readable. New treatments for pull quotes, block quotes, interviews, and long-form features allow us to tell more kinds of stories with elegance.

We’ve also zapped a few of the sharing tools that used to clunk up the page; since most of our readers share with Facebook and Twitter, those are the sharing buttons we’ve emphasized. (If you still want to email this story or print it out, you can click the plus sign to avail yourself of those options.) One nifty new feature allows you to highlight article text—any sentence or fragment or clause—and tweet it or post it to Facebook, which should make it easier for you to share the things you like on Slate with your friends.

130921_SF_04_hilightToShare

Also rolling out today is a new commenting system. You regular commenters won’t need to register a new account, but you will have to log in again. It will work much like the old system, with a few cool new capabilities. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out one new tool that will allow editors to feature especially smart or interesting comments in the article well, giving our lively contributors more visibility. And the new system can also notify commenters by email if their comments spark replies. (We’ll also be bringing over our existing comments later this week—so don’t worry, your bon mots won’t be lost in the sands of time.)

Update: A few of you have emailed to say that you can’t find the comments on story pages. To see them, click on the maroon comment icon at the end of each article page or blog post.

130923_SF_05_ViewComments

Please take a tour of the site and let us know what you think. Post feedback in the comments below or send it to redesign@slate.com. We hope you enjoy the new Slate.

David Plotz David Plotz

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.

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