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The Verge redesigned more than just their website

The co-founder and editor-in-chief wrote about it here. This redesign is a big deal for the media and journalism industries because it teaches us a few things about all the bits and pieces that make up the work we do, and why some of them matter, and why some of them don’t.

The Verge redesigned more than just their website

There are a few happy surprises involved. Here are some of those bits and pieces that stood out for me:

  • The visual design of media matters. Also, the visual design of media doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to be cute here: I’m saying that your colour palette and your typography matters not because purple and orange are cool, but because your purple body text on your orange background rectangle meets contrast standards and is readable by anybody on any device. The same goes for page speed. And findability. You get the point.
  • Non-algo feeds matter. They are priceless — and they’re great design. They go back to why you opt in to participating in a piece of media in the first place, because they were built by a bespoke human and bits of bespoke tech, and they were built for you. Say hello to the blog again, “an editorial product made by actual people with intent and expertise”. The blog is dead. Long live the blog.
  • Your audience matters — much, much more than your content. Talking to your users is like a good conversation: if you ramble on about Important Things that matter to you, you’ll probably find people walking away mid-sente… Good conversations are, at the very least, two-way organisms. “The internet is about conversations, and The Verge should be a place to find great conversations.”
  • Great product matters. Even if you didn’t build it. So the new Verge links in to its own content, old publication-style, and it links out to other parts of the internet we we all consume, feed-style. And by that, they mean the internet, not just articles with words and pictures and bylines because 2022, and that’s how we consume the internet.
  • Homepages matter. Again. “The Verge’s homepage is the single most popular page at Vox Media, and it should be a statement about what the internet can be at its best. So we sat down and thought about what was really important to us and how to make our homepage valuable every time you open it.” Reddit has always said it is the front page of the internet; the Verge just came and stole their homepage and added Blurple (yep, that’s the actual name of one of the colours on their primary palette).
  • Efficient journalism workflow matters. More than ever. The new feed-forward, content-agnostic redesign means that the Verge newsroom has more resources and time to do the big investigations their audiences want, because it means “we’ll get back hours upon hours of time to do more original reporting, deeper reviews, and even more incisive analyses — the work that makes The Verge great.” This also means fewer wasted resources on stories that aren’t being seen.
  • Prototypes matter. Even if you make them in Google Docs. The co-founders of the Verge, one of the most revered tech news websites in the recent history of the world wide web, built their first prototypes of this new feed redesign in a Google Doc. This fills me with glee.
  • Fun really matters. Remember when the internet used to be fun? I mean, it was also janky and half-assed, but so much fun. The Verge is laser-focused on making sure they make this entire experience fun for their audiences. “But there’s only one real goal here: The Verge should be fun to read, every time you open it. If we get that right, everything else will fall into place.” I agree. I don’t love the redesign, but who cares because my goodness it’s so much fun.
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