What If Websites Looked More Like Magazines?

You know how in a magazine, each article tends to have it’s own look and feel? The design directly supports the content, and will change from article to article. I think it works well for magazines, and I started thinking – Why aren’t websites more like that?

This could be a way of making an article more engaging and meaningful for the reader. Or it might just confuse readers. One thing is certain – With the rise of the iPad, the age of digital magazines has dawned. Publications have started to create their own apps, and the articles that are published through these apps will showcase similar design to that used in the printed versions of the magazines. But should they bring that same design into their official websites as well?

It hasn’t caught on with the mainstream, but some bloggers have started a trend referred to as “blogazines”. The Stray Muse provides a telling example. Here are three very different looking pages from the same website:

The Stray Muse – The Stink Eyebrow
The Stray Muse – What’s the measure?
The Stray Muse – Tongue Worms

Notice how each page has it’s own, very different, background image, layout, typography, etc. The header and comments areas remain similar to retain some cohesiveness, but otherwise each page is free to morph into whatever best suits the article. Instead of simply choosing a hero image to accompany the article, whole new designs are applied to each article to support the content. It’s an interesting approach, but is this something more websites should do?

What if this actually confuses readers? What if the reader looks at the entire World Wide Web as one giant magazine, and each website is like a new article in that magazine? With the speed that readers jump from site to site, maybe they prefer a consistent experience within any given site. Often, readers are just looking to skim and scan. Having to digest a new design on each page might actually be unwelcome.

What do you think? Should more website adopt the website-as-magazine approach?

2 Responses to “What If Websites Looked More Like Magazines?”

  1. Sean Embury

    From 2002-2005 I was the coordinating producer at CBC Radio 3. We created an online magazine that is worth checking out. It’s run ended in O5 but all 105 issues are archived at:


    There are a few functions that aren’t working anymore (no maintenance) but it will give you a sense of how we used the magazine as a model for a website.


    • admin

      Thanks for sharing that Sean – your team did some really great work; definitely ahead of its time. I’d like to see the magazine continue on iPad.


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