Texas Monthly

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Challenge

For almost three decades, Texas Monthly (TM) has been a nationally recognized institution. With a readership of over two million Texans, it’s widely regarded as the gatekeeper of the state’s culture. As such, when TM came looking for a partner to assist them with a multi-faceted site refresh, we were eager to take part in something that felt like a little piece of Texas history.

TM wanted a facelift for the brand’s online experience across all devices. That meant that everything from homepage and layout, to type styles and check-out experience would fall under the microscope.

We joined to help them ensure they stayed bleeding-edge with regard to editorial design and functionality, while making room for relatively new mediums like podcast and video. We also wanted to help readers discover more interesting stories and interact with the brand in a way that prioritized and clearly presented the brand’s most compelling content.

Process

The project had three main components:

“Check-out "— Overhauling TMs subscription check-out flow

“.com” — UX and visual design enhancements for the homepage

“Article”— Complete visual re-design with a new strategy for readers to find the most relevant content

Subscriptions

TM’s former flow sent users to a third-party service that took them through a standard but stale form. We worked with the team to brand the process, clarify options, and make the whole experience feel more like a part of the Texas Monthly ecosystem.

The Funsize and TM team spent time researching the market to create a competitive analysis of TMs contemporaries. After pulling together a wide variety of experiences, we honed in on the similarities across publications and collaborated to parse out what worked best.

We settled on a card layout view that was intuitive, interactive and mobile-friendly.

During the conceptual design phase, we created multiple options for stakeholders to respond to. The options were further refined for Applied Design and everyone left happy with the results.

Conceptual Design
More Conceptual Design options

The finished product was simpler, clearer and more visually appealing.

The check-out challenge had the greatest number of technical requirements. So, it was a relief to be able to come up with a strong solution that started the project off on a high note.

Homepage

For homepage design, we started by running two workshops we felt would benefit the project most: The Gut Test and Lightning Demos.

The Gut Test 

He presented a series of example references to stakeholders. The participants graded the examples based on their initial response, then provided additional notes under the categories of “Visual Design/Architecture,” “User Experience,” and “General Comments.”

Stakeholder responses to The Gut Test

Lightning demos 

Stakeholders each brought three examples of inspiration (including samples from outside the editorial industry), then presented their choices and rationale for each.

Lightning Demos

The data gathered from these exercises was used to prioritize goals and align on a visual/UX direction for wire-framing.

Wireframes

After a couple iterations, we took the .com project into the Applied Design phase. 

Articles

We created 13 different templates for online articles (along with mobile versions). 

Iterating on tiny details like drop caps and text styles ensured the print experience translated to digital, which was especially gratifying for the TM team. 

Results

We loved this project. The collaboration went smoothly and TM team was thrilled to see their incredible print-design work leveraged into an equally compelling visual experience for long-time Texas Monthly subscribers and new visitors alike. 

Shout-outs for the awesome work: 

Texas Monthly 

Brett Bowlin
Allison Horrell
Emily Kimbro
Tim Biery 

Services
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