Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fortune.com: One year later



A little more than a year ago, I wrote about 11 ideas to improve Fortune's lists online, since the company was looking for a new editor to manage franchise projects like the Fortune 500. I decided to check in on what's changed since then, using the 100 Best Companies list on which I based the initial exercise.

Organization

I much prefer the splash page with the top 10 items (each with thumbnail), and instead of the tabs to organize the list, now we have a row of features that are related to this list along the top, each with a big picture. I recommended these changes and clearly they were thinking along the same lines.

I also see that the box on the top right is now being used to highlight other Fortune lists rather than a job search tool, which is a much better way to use the space.

Video content, which used to be up top in a prominent place, now takes a more logical place below the list where it's intermingled with other featured content. I don't know many people who specifically go to a site looking for video content to watch; rather they go looking for interesting content, whatever form it takes. Fortune has apparently realized this, which is a good thing.

So it's a big step forward, pretty much involving all 4 of my original suggestions for organizing this content.

Content

In terms of content, I don't see much new here. Looks like the old lists, just packaged in a new way. Maybe this area will improve with time, but I still think that there should be more social media on this page, and there should be deeper integration with other Fortune lists.

Design

My biggest reaction to the new lists is that finally we have a lot of visuals to make the page stand out and give the reader things to latch onto. I would love to see more non-stock-photo art, but overall the page looks fresher and more modern than it did a year ago. I do think some persistent nav would do wonders for the user experience and would make the lists significantly more mobile-friendly though.

Finally, I am very happy to note that one feature I mentioned in my earlier posts, including one on social media recommendations for Fortune, has been made reality: Social Media Superstars, the companies with the most dedicated approach to using social media to connect with the public. It's a breakout list of the top companies master list, and I bet this one has done well both on the site and in terms of sharability.

Nicely done, Fortune, but there is still a way to go to make these lists sing on websites and, most importantly, phones and tablets. Good luck in that effort.
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