Dictionaries change, seasons change, even atoms change—let’s hear it for radiation! But science’s meteoric rise in pop culture continues to surprise us. I like to say there’s no better time to work for Popular Science, because today science is popular.
The signs are everywhere. More people on Earth have access to a cell phone than a toilet. Playing video games is a professional sport (maybe). Scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson, who hosted an incredibly popular TV series, and Bill Nye, who graced our magazine cover and danced with the stars, are world-famous celebrities. U.S. Presidents now host science fairs inside the White House. Memes like this.
Something that hasn’t changed in our 142 years of experience, however, is your insatiable curiosity about what’s new and what’s next.
We took this all to heart when given the chance to redesign PopularScience.com from the ground up∗. The site you see now is the better half of a year’s effort to give you more of what you want: a lively news feed, mind-blowing science and technology images, approachable writing, and a quirky sense of humor. In short, we did this all for you… Ok, and maybe just a little bit for us, too.
Something that hasn’t changed in 142 years is your insatiable curiosity about what’s new and what’s next
Although we’re still refining and tweaking every aspect of this site—caching, image compression, kerning, line-spacing, user interfaces, etc.—let’s take a quick tour:
We redesigned the homepage around what its fans crave most: The news feed. We widened the column, trimmed display copy, and made other refinements to pack in roughly three times more stories. That way, it’s easier and more enjoyable to scan on any device. On desktop browsers, you’ll see a giant image at the top. There’s no official name for it yet, but internally we’re referring to it as the “B.F.I.” (use your imagination as necessary). Check the homepage often: that top spot will change regularly throughout the day with stunning images and great stories. (See the gallery, above, for a sample of stuff we’ve already posted.) Farther down, you’ll see cards that round up stories by topic, plus promotions for top-tier content.
Bigger, Bolder Features
Our redesign effort doesn’t end with refining the site’s appearance, structure, and function. We’re also developing exciting new video series and digitally native feature stories that are big, ambitious, and beautiful. You’ll continue to see our award-winning magazine content online, of course—although I’ll note a monthly subscription is the best way to get it first—but expect the occasional and surprising enhancement of those features. Take, for example, the transformation of our October 2014 cover story, The Car Disrupted, and December 2014’s Best Of What’s New awards, which celebrate the 100 greatest innovations of the year. We gave each of these the online treatment we thought they deserved.
Enhanced For Desktop And Mobile
There’s a one-in-three chance you’re reading this post on a smartphone or tablet (watch your step, please!). That’s a jump in mobile traffic of more than 40 percent compared to a year ago. To make the site better than ever for fans on the go, we moved into a more modular and responsive design, blew up the font size, widened stories, and crafted a new, easy-to-use navigation menu. We also embiggened the share buttons to help you spread the word.
Our most dedicated fans will notice we’ve ditched the static, top-aligned navbar for persistent access to the kitchen sink of options. The goal: make it easier for anyone to find what they’re looking for on the site, no matter how they get to us. A few things to point out include the so-called “hamburger menu” (aka the three horizontal lines, top left), which tucks the site’s taxonomy into a tidy list. We did this to reduce clutter and make room for submenu of “threads”: trending, developing, dynamic stories that we’re actively covering, and folks want to see right away. Expect our threads to change regularly as news breaks or we have something special to show off.
Nowadays humans are practically born scrolling. So, we tore down the walls of the site to help you discover more of what you like, and faster. Land on a space story, for example, and you’ll flow right into more space stories at the end. Like animals? Scroll to the bottom, and more cute, creepy, and carbon-based things will load. There are 13 channels across the site that feed this feature, which we call “infinite” scroll, and we hope you like it.
Revamped Blog Network
We’re incredibly proud of our talented and productive independent blog network, which covers an impressive range of subjects and styles—robots, microbes, Chinese military tech, infectious diseases, childhood development, forgotten space history, citizen science, creepy crawlies, even science comics (thanks for the epic 404 page, Maki!). We gave them a fresh, new home with reimagined iconography and better play across the site. Look for exciting new additions to the Popular Science blog network shortly—you won’t want to miss ’em.
I led with change, so I’ll end with it: This is just the beginning for the new PopularScience.com. We’re huddling with developers, designers, editors, contributors, and other team members just about every day, and we intend to roll out new features and refinements on a monthly if not weekly basis. So keep checking back!
∗ On behalf of Popular Science, I’d like to thank Bonnier Corp., our parent company, for making this redesign possible. We couldn’t have pulled this off without their tireless and talented web development team members in Winter Park, Florida, who continue to help us realize our vision for the site.