The Atlantic.com, web outpost for the improbably long-tenured U.S. magazine, has debuted another iteration. I’ve lost count of how many sub-launches of the site there have been just since I’ve been paying attention.
But that’s good. From where I sit, multiple iterations are the way to progress on the web. Too often web developers sit for months creating a grand castle, worrying the details until it’s just “right.” But time passes, opinions multiply, and eventually the grand castle is released as a McMansion with a scrim of Google ads running down the side. Three years later, another team is back at it, with pictures of a new castle up on the conference room walls.
Theatlantic.com, by contrast, just keeps pushing out upgrades every few months. Each one gets better, and creates subsequent opportunities to correct and change course.
Here’s the new masthead, which anticipates the printed magazine’s new retro look:
Key detail. A news-ish feature called “The Current” has been renamed “Dispatches.” Good move. “Dispatches” I understand. “The Current”. . .not so much. More proof that on the web, clear beats clever every time.
Longstanding grievance: How could an operation that “gets it” so well still view the website as a way to sell subscriptions to the petroleum-and-lumber version of the magazine, so much so that it is willing to degrade web user experience in the process of pushing pulp? Witness:
FOUR FREAKIN’ PROMPTS TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINTED MAGAZINE, ABOVE THE FOLD, OCCUPYING THE MOST VALUABLE REAL ESTATE ON THE WEBSITE.
Stop that, I tell you, stop that!