In thinking about Guidebook, The Verge’s new tech product review hub that launched today, executive editor Dieter Bohn wanted to do more than provide a redesigned home for product reviews. He wanted to reshape the way product reviews are conceptualized, and set to work with editorial director Helen Havlak and Verge senior editor Dan Seifert to get it done.
“We believe that tech isn’t separate from people’s day-to-day lives, and we want our reviews program to reflect that,” Bohn tells Fishbowl. “Anybody can tell you which gadget has the most memory or the fastest processor. But we have the experience and the depth to tell our audience why they should care about it and how to make the most of it.”
That includes demystifying the use of tech in addition to providing an assessment of it, and having those things live in the same space. “We acknowledge that some gadgets aren’t easy to figure out, so combining how-to articles with reviews feels natural,” Bohn tells Fishbowl.
As Havlak explains, that will include an expanded focus on audiovisuals in addition to text. Guidebook will “surface our strong editorial voices against our signature beautiful photography, 8-minute YouTube reviews of flagship products, and 2-minute Facebook video life hacks. And it will make all of those easier to navigate and discover than before,” she tells Fishbowl.
The expanded video section will provide opportunities for editorial sponsorships as well.
The Verge is also debuting an Editor’s Choice section, where, as Bohn explains in an introductory post, “we’re slapping a big ol’ badge on our very favorite products.” One or two items a week will get that designation from different Verge editors, who will add an accompanying essay detailing why a product is earning that title.
Some of The Verge’s prior series are making a comeback in the launch, including its This Is My Next series, which compares a number of products in a specific area, as in “The Best Wireless Headphones for Running.”
Guidebook’s name is a reference to the city guidebooks used in vacation prep, and the sum total of features in the space is meant to create that same experience. “Think about your favorite city guide or a really great book about your favorite hobby. The best guidebooks explain things simply without talking down to you,” writes Bohn in the introduction. “They’re approachable, connecting to real experiences and culture instead of throwing arcane terminology in your face.”