How effective is NYLON’s blog?

Lately I’ve noticed many magazines struggling with differentiating between the role of their main sites and their blogs. It’s a blurry line between the two and I’m not sure any platform has the answer. Before critiquing NYLON‘s blog it’s important to breakdown my perspective of the relationship of the two in general.

Why have a blog if you already have a website?

Since redesigning a website is a long, expensive and tedious process, many magazines choose to implement a blog. This allows the platform a more visually appealing site without the costs of a redesign. Also, according to SEO research, blogging original content pushes you higher in Google search results. Woo hoo!

More importantly, the major CMS for blogging has a very user friendly interface.  Staff that might have trouble working in Joomla!, Drupal or Django can easily post content in WordPress. Admins can set a certain level of control for each user, thus limiting the likelihood of a backend “oopsie” from staff.

The blog serves as a way to connect each day with readers and start conversation.

The blog serves as a way to connect each day with readers and start conversation with them. It feeds the reader little tidbits and is just enough to wet their appetites. Say that a platform was working on an in-depth feature and wanted to let their reader know that they planned on covering it. They could write a short preview so readers could anticipate the story.

Content also works well as a follow-up for previously published stories or live coverage of events. For instance, if you wanted to give an account of a film festival that was occurring, the blog is the perfect platform (in addition to Twitter) for quick reporting. Since blogging CMS, such as WordPress and Tumblr, have a mobile apps, you can even whip up an article on-the-go. These tools provide journalists a way to connect unlike ever before with their audiences.

Problems with blogging:

The instantaneous nature of this medium makes it a lot easier to make mistakes and produce sloppy journalism. In print, an article might have four drafts before an editor decides it’s ready to publish. The editing process with blogs tends to be reverse: publish first, make revisions/corrections later. Journalists need to remember that accuracy and fairness trumps immediacy. Just because you can revise articles later, doesn’t mean you should make sloppy mistakes.

Abiding by these ground rules is obviously easier said than done. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it. I’m sure if you search this blog, you’ll find comma splices and disagreements with AP Style rules.

However, it’s important to maintain a balance between “writing for the web” and journalistic writing style. Blog content should be easier to read than a print article.

So, how effective is NYLON’s blog?

Kudos, NYLON. You’re doing a great job of engaging with readers and consistently producing content. For the past week, there’s been a minimum of 7 posts/day. It’s easy to subscribe to the blog and connect via social media. The content length is just enough to keep readers informed and coming back for more.

One thing that I don’t agree with is the use of “NYLON” on the top navigation of the blog. At first, I thought it was a CSS style telling me that that was the current page. Then I realized I was in a subsite. I can see how this could easily confuse the user and make them feel lost in the site.

A simple solution would be to include breadcrumbs indicating where the user was in relation to the main site. It would also be helpful if the “NYLON BLOG” link was styled larger/had a hover state different from the main “NYLON” link. I understand they want to direct traffic to the main site, but it confuses the user.

It’d be interesting to compare the blog’s analytics to the main site’s analytics. I’m willing to bet that returning traffic on the blog is increasing while Nylonmag.com is declining.

– Emily

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Advertisements + NYLON: QR codes galore

One thing I noticed in the very first issue of NYLON was their choice of advertisements. Even though they chose A-List companies, the ads didn’t have A-List celebrities in them like usual. They use regular models (not that that truly exists) who I think sell the product better.

The majority of the advertisements reflect the edgy, hipster style of the magazine. The type was harsher in these ads compared to what you’d see in Marie Claire or Vogue. Many of the ads included QR codes, which I’ve been noticing everywhere lately. Unless the code leads to a coupon or cool YouTube video, then what is the point? The majority of the people I’ve talked to agree that it’s more time-consuming to pull up the QR app and snap the picture than to type in the mobile web address. I think it’s just one of those things people do to say, “Oh, cool. Look what I can do!”

Semi-effective use of QR code in NYLON

Macy’s advertisement | 30-second video of the photo shoot

Not-so-effective use of QR code in NYLON:

Smashbox advertisement | Leads to Smashbox website

QR codes. Just another example of how usability defines everything.

PS: Sorry for the crappy quality of the photos. They were taken on Photo Booth, haha.

An overview of NYLON’s site

One thing I’m very passionate about is multimedia design. I believe there are so many ways to enhance the reader experience with rich multimedia components such as audio, video, polls, infographics, etc… It’s a really interesting time to see how magazines are experimenting with multimedia or if they’re ignoring it completely.

Nylonmag.com offer some of the same content online as in their September print issue or at least a “sneak peek” view of it. I need to wait until the next issue to be able to decide whether or not they’re just regurgitating the design and content. However, it seems they are adding videos and audio that wouldn’t be available in print. They offer a 1-5 scale (cute, little hearts) for rating articles and allow readers to comment. The ability to share content across social media platforms is super easy to do, which I was glad to see them do a great job of implementing it.

The UX of the site is fairly good, although their sub-navi is a little squished and isn’t prominent enough. I plan on posting a more in-depth critique of this later.

I found myself spending more time on their blog component than their actual site, even though it contained similar content. When I stumbled across the blog, I was was left confused as to where I was in the site, before realizing they were separate sites.

The design of their site has awkward white space where it’s obvious that something isn’t behaving as it should. Everyone, especially magazine and news sites, is struggling with this right now so I’m sure NYLON will continue to grow in web design.

First experience reading NYLON

If it weren’t for my friend, Michelle, I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to the wonderful magazine NYLON. She interned at their NYC office this summer as a graphic designer and absolutely loved it.

Since the September 2011 issue (denoted “The TV Issue” is my first time reading NYLON, I wanted to document my reaction to it. As the semester progresses, I’ll critique the decisions the staff made, but before so I need to gather an understanding of the magazine.

My experience reading NYLON was an enjoyable one. Part of me wanted to clip out every article and assemble a “things to buy” list. The other part of me wanted to keep every beautifully designed page untouched. As I scoured the content, I gathered that this magazine is supposed to be “edgy and fresh.” Like every magazine strives to do, its purpose is to inform readers of what’s going to be in style, not just what’s popular right now.

Pages are filled with tips on how to achieve a certain look or tidbits about products that are going to be released. The magazine contains profiles on fashion designers, actresses, musicians and other leaders in entertainment. The articles don’t seem to focus on just “A-List” stars, but instead on people doing innovative and exciting things in the industry. This issue’s primary focus is on TV although it doesn’t overwhelm me as a reader.

This magazine targets young women who are the first to try new things, despite others raising their eyebrows. It appeals to women who friends go to for finding out about the latest music artist or YouTube video. Perfect, NYLON. I think we’ll be getting along just fine 🙂