Issue-based content

Finally had a chance over the last two days to begin thinking about the Wired magazine site design. The current site is riddled with usability problems, poor architecture, and a very awkward design. I can be brutally honest about it, because I worked on this design over four years ago. The site’s current design was based on a model we were using for all HotWired Network sites back then. A model we abandoned long ago after learning many of the problems that showed up during user testing.

While we plan on sharing some of the elements from the new Wired News design to create a relationship between the two sites, the magazine’s content mandates a different architecture. This content is organized and often accessed by users chronologically by monthly issue number. However, a user may like one of the magazine’s regular features enough to want to browse a list showing the same features from prior issues.

Access points into Wired magazine content might be effectively represented by a simple matrix. Time on the x-axis (each monthly issue), repetitive features and sections along the y-axis. Upon arriving at the site, the focus should always be the current issue content. Users should be able to browse the content of an entire single issue, as done with the printed copy of the magazine. They should also be able to hit a particular feature or section of the magazine, then move backward or forward in time to the same feature from other issues.