Ebony’s Bold, Vibrant Website Redesign

If I could think of one word to describe the changes with Ebony in the last few years, it would be evolutionary.

In 2009, the magazine’s parent company Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) was rumored to be on the verge of financial collapse. In 2010, JPC sold their historic Chicago headquarters, named Amy DuBois Barnett as editor-in-chief, launched an iPad app to celebrate their 65th anniversary, and hired former White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers as CEO of JPC. 2011 marked more big changes for Ebony, including releasing another iPad app, appointing Kierna Mayo as editorial director, digital, and tapping former ESQUIRE art director Darhil Crooks to completely revamp the print magazine’s design from cover-to-cover. (Crooks is now Creative Director at Ebony.)

Now, Ebony has debuted their new website redesign which complements and strengthens the magazine’s visual theme while bringing the brand into the 21st century.

“The relaunch and redesign of EBONY.com represents a true extension of our brand,” said Barnett in a recent press release. The homepage’s full width background slideshow features the stories of the day while also providing a focal point for the user. New content categories for the website are featured in the site’s primary navigation, and the left and right columns on the homepage feature the top stories of the day. Photos and videos are heavily used throughout the website, and fonts like Trade Gothic and Brunel further tie the website’s identity to the print magazine.

Each story on the Ebony website includes comments powered by Disqus, as well as the ability to share articles via Twitter using one of six custom hashtags (#EBONYOnPoint, #EBONYWhoa, #EBONYNot, #EBONYOoh, #EBONYSMH, #EBONYGreatRead). Stories also include links to share content on Facebook or via email.

The new website redesign was handled by Code and Theory, the design and development team behind media websites like Engadget, Vogue and IAC’s The Daily Beast. While there are still some features missing from the site (e.g., no search functionality), I’m sure Ebony will start to incorporate more modern elements into their site while keeping their loyal print audience engaged.

What are your thoughts on the magazine’s new website redesign?