By: Nu Yang
When the team behind onmilwaukee.com decided to redesign their website this year, they wanted it to be from the website’s point of view. What does that mean exactly?
According to publisher and cofounder Andy Tarnoff, the newest article may no longer be the most important piece of content on a homepage. Tarnoff called 2012 the “Year of Curation,” when the date of a story will be less important than the quality.
Founded in 1998, onmilwaukee.com is an independent, daily, online magazine that covers news and activities in Milwaukee, Wis. The city guide receives about 400,000 unique visitors a month. With so many readers, the website had gone through several new looks in order to improve its functionality.
The most recent redesign launched in February after a two-month process. It addressed three concerns from readers and advertisers: There was too much content on the homepage; visitors wanted to see everything without having to be told what was important and what wasn’t; and visitors felt they were missing out on good content when they were directed to the site from social media.
The new design presents curated pieces on the left side of the homepage, while the right column shows every piece of content published on the site in chronological order. Below that are other modules organized by blogger. In addition, colors and fonts were reorganized, and HTML 5 was utilized for faster load times.
“The entire layout is more compact and cleaner,” Tarnoff said. “It reminds me of a magazine’s table of contents, instead of a long scroll of everything we could cram onto one page.”
Tarnoff said the quick turnaround of the redesign was credited to the software and work done in-house by the magazine’s 20 staff members.
“We’re small enough that we can pounce on new technology and just do it,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for 14 years, so we have a good understanding.”
Onmilwaukee.com also has plans to launch several applications in the near future, including an “answers” application that will be a user-generated question-and-answer platform, and an overhaul of the mobile application to make it more simplified. Each section of the website will also receive a unique new look to make each one stand out.
Tarnoff said he wants to branch out and start more sister sites with niche publishers. The company recently partnered with a men’s grooming website based in Houston, that attracts nearly 100,000 visitors a month. “We help with their advertising and take a part of that action,” he said.
Tarnoff expects to see more curation in the future. “I believe we should lead online. There’s huge potential there for print — not just with a paywall, but with something really well-thought.”