Web Design • UX • Content Strategy • Branding
The Seattle Weekly redesign includes a simplified navigation and streamlined site architecture, providing a more practical and pleasant reader experience. It operates on a business model that incorporates social media, community-sponsored content, and native advertisements. The brand refresh strengthens the brand overall and results in a reader experience that is cohesive and memorable across all brand expressions in web and print.
READER RESEARCH / Seattle Weekly readers include tourists as well as residents of Seattle metro and eastside suburbs. Approximately 85% of the readers have at least one college degree and 90% of them make more than 50k annually. Of the 1,704,016 monthly website views, Seattle Weekly reaches 633,146 unique visitors, with an average viewing rate of 2.59 pages per visit. Their principal competitor is The Stranger (more on them later).
WEBSITE AUDIT / In the initial website audit we discovered many opportunities for improvement. Overall, hierarchy was not clearly defined, site navigation was cluttered and complicated, content display was excessive, and style choices were inconsistent, utilizing a mix of flat design and skeuomorphism, as well as a logo treatment that was inconsistent with their print edition.
USER TESTING / To inform how the site architecture and navigation could be refreshed and improved, we organized a card sort exercise and asked a pool of users to perform our primary task on Seattle Weekly’s active site. We found that many of our users were not able to complete their task due to complications in navigating the site.
We also found that most users began their task by searching google. Given this understanding, we designed each page of the Seattle Weekly site under the assumption that our readers might bypass the front page. Each Seattle Weekly page, primary or otherwise, was developed such that the site name, content, and options to explore further are always clear and evident to the reader.
NAVIGATION SUCCESS / Moving forward with design, we realized that all of the content could be streamlined into the categories of journalism and current events. We built our sitemap around these two categories and introduced a two-fold navigation; stories and events.
Of interesting note, shortly after building out the Seattle Weekly redesign we discovered that The Stranger had redesigned their site to include a two-fold navigation; things to read and things to do. We consider that a successful proof concept!
WIRES & STYLE TILE / With a mobile-first approach, we developed wireframes and paper prototypes for early user testing. Our style tile took inspiration from Seattle Weekly’s print edition and includes web fonts that match the Seattle Weekly print typefaces, simple graphic elements that are quick to load on page load, and a responsive logo.
A LIVE SITE / Our goal was to provide Seattle Weekly online readers a place for engaging stories and current events. We wanted the experience to be on-brand, memorable, and free of any hiccups in navigation. The live site is temporarily unavailable, but will be back up shortly.