Boston Review Launches New Site

The Boston Review launched their new website today, and whether you’re a dedicated reader or not, it’s worth a peek.

The magazine has always seen good design as a way to engage to readers. In 2010, they switched from a black and white tabloid to a glossy, full color mag. In print, they wanted it to be beautiful and permanent, according to marketing director Daniel Pritchard, “something our readers could keep on the shelf.”

On the web, “the goal is to engage new readers, so we wanted it to be easily accessible and easier to navigate, expressing the same aesthetic but thinking about the structure very differently,” Pritchard told me in an email. I think those goals are reflected in the new design.

Some features:

1. Navigation

Unlike some magazine sites that cover lots of topics, it’s easy to choose your section and move around once you’re in on the new BR site. The ‘Most Read/Most Commented’ menu bar is aesthetically reminiscent of  The Atlantic Wire’s site. I think that’s a good thing; The Atlantic is one of those publications that has a lot to say on a lot of topics. It’s always been easy to stick around and browse, and the new Boston Review site encourages the same sort of engagement. 

2. BR Blog

Magazines like the Review need a way to stay current in the digital cycle and the new BR Blog allows the editors and contributors to comment on current events and stay active. While the Fiction, Poetry, and Archives sections are easy to browse, it’s not content that’s active all of the time. The Blog is a smart way to keep readers interested every day, or even throughout the day.

3. The Forum

I don’t know about everyone else, but as soon as I hear the word ‘forum,’ I cringe. I hate trying to follow the conversation in digital ones. The BR has made their signature New Democracy Forum a prominent feature — it’s the first menu option on the header — and simple to read, by just clicking through the respondents’ essays. I like that the comment section is by default in rich text. There’s something psychological about that rich text editor — it makes you feel like you have to think before you just type into a box and hit ‘submit.’ Maybe that’s silly, but if you want to foster thoughtful conversation, make the trolls work for it!

What do you think of the new layout?