How do you update a 150-year-old brand for the digital age?

On July 6, 1865 a group of committed abolitionists launched a rousing periodical—The Nation—which would elevate our country’s political discourse through trailblazing content by some of our country’s most revered writers. But after mastering the art of print communications for more than a hundred years, their digital experience was in need of a rethink. The challenges they were facing are common to many brands: building and expanding their audience; increasing site visits and ad revenue; deepening relationships with readers who can play a more active role as brand advocates; unifying disparate channels into an integrated experience; and evolving organizational structure to meet the demands of a rapid-response world.

Our engagement started with an in-depth digital strategy phase where we established forward-looking recommendations for The Nation to move its technology platforms, user experience, internal infrastructure, and revenue model opportunities into the modern age. Next, we tackled a full redesign which launched—150 years to the day—after their founding. A modest but mighty team designed and implemented the new experience (on a budget and scale befitting a small publication with big aspirations) to help The Nation remain at the forefront of independent journalism for the next generation while driving new revenue.

“The new website has changed the culture at our organization, which is the best thing you can say about a website. It’s unleashed the creativity of our editors.”Richard Kim, Executive Editor

Designed for The Nation reader

Every week The Nation publishes about 70 articles, which go out to over 700,000 Twitter followers, more than 530,000 Facebook fans, and over 225,000 email subscribers. And the site was designed to enhance their experience—on a desktop, tablet or mobile—while encouraging content sharing and action taking. The homepage and channel fronts move away from the web trend of simplistic grid layouts to offer something more complex and rewarding. Beautiful fonts and a variety of image fields pull readers into the each article, and prominent share tools, twitter quotes, and a “highlight to email/tweet” function make them easy to share. A robust new taxonomy and a curated, continuous scroll seamlessly connects readers to related content.

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Supporting writers and editors

Beyond the reader, the new experience also needed to improve the lives of the writers and editors who work in the site every day. A new, flexible, modular infrastructure enables editors to easily curate content and offer a more visually varied, yet coherent experience. Twenty-four different full and half-width modules enable editors to showcase not just today’s top stories, but the full depth of The Nation’s coverage and archive. Editors can choose to cluster related stories together in meaningful ways, or offer readers varied entry points into the news by highlighting subjects, authors, and content from the magazine to help them better understand the political and historical context of today’s events.

Encouraging activism

Readers of The Nation are a different breed. They don’t just want to read about critical issues, they want to get involved, right wrongs, create change. The new website experience introduces “take action” opportunities in editorial contexts that blur the line between consuming editorial and driving action to fulfill a new type of promise.

“Overall, the site blends a sense of urgency and timeliness with the provocative and prescient coverage that is The Nation’s hallmark.”Richard Kim, Executive Editor

The Nation on desktop

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