Eater’s Redesign Is a Test For Vox Media’s Chorus Platform

Can CMS allow food brand to take the next step?

If you're heading to Eater and notice something a little different, it's because the nine-year-old website got a facelift on Monday.

The new look is the culmination of editorial improvements and hires—including Bloomberg's Ryan Sutton, Village Voice's Robert Sietsema, Saveur's Helen Rosner and editors in 27 cities—that the foodie brand has made since it became part of Vox Media eight months ago. "We have been building up our army in preparation for this relaunch," said Amanda Kludt, Eater's editor in chief.

The external changes also mark Eater's migration to Vox Media's Chorus platform, the company's proprietary CMS. Vox's other websites—including SB Nation, The Verge and Vox.com—already use the seven-year-old platform, but given that Eater used a different CMS before when it was on the Curbed network, the brand's relaunch gives it a chance to test Chorus.

Lockhart Steele, Vox Media's vp of editorial and founder of Eater, said he sold the food website in part because he was intrigued by Chorus' capabilities. But even before using it, Eater's traffic had grown 250 percent since the site was acquired by Vox, according to its new parent company.

By design, Chorus focuses on building an engaged online community via data from search and social, which in turn guides editorial planning, according to Trei Brundett, Vox' chief product officer. Staffers then develop new content, using measurement tools to figure out what resonates. The information gathered on published content gives further insights, creating a feedback loop.

"We use storytelling and audience development to create big brands, modern brands and smart brands," said Vox CEO Jim Bankoff.

Editorially, Chorus will enable Eater to increase its focus on visuals, highlight original reporting and integrate map stacks that tell hungry readers where to find grub. The CMS also facilitates interaction with readers through forums, Kludt said. “If we do it right, it’s going to be a huge game changer in the food space," she added.

The changes also enable brands, such as relaunch partners Negra Modelo and Absolut, to leverage the food site's broadening reach. Premium branded content can be added via an additional "card" in a visual card stack or an ad placed in a photography slideshow of top places to eat.

"What we do for marketers is we can help them tell stories to help them find audiences," Bankoff said.