Trying to Stay Relevant, ‘Ebony’ Relaunches Online

New site eyes digital rivals

Ebony is pulling back the curtain on a new website Wednesday, the latest step in Johnson Publishing Co. CEO (and former White House social secretary) Desiree Rogers’ effort to reverse years of ad declines and stay relevant with African-American readers.

Shepherding the revamp is Ebony editor in chief Amy DuBois Barnett, who was hired away from Harper’s Bazaar last June. Before Bazaar, she served in editorial leadership roles at Teen People and Honey. She arrived shortly after Ebony got a major redesign, with a new logo and more articles about lifestyle, wellness and business success stories.

For, Johnson Publishing turned to Code and Theory, whose work on the relaunch of was followed by massive traffic gains for that site.

The once-plain looking is now striking visually. The site’s content is now organized around Ebony-branded topics like Blacklisted and Discuss, and features news from across the Web alongside homegrown content. There’s more entertainment, wellness, and lifestyle content. Archived content also is featured.

Barnett said her goal was to make the site more competitive as rival news and gossip sites have sprung up.

“The site has been very utilitarian,” she said. “The new site has a very different mission. We’re really aiming to be at the core of the African-American conversation online. African Americans over-index on everything digital, so I think the opportunity for us is tremendous.”