The proliferation of online news sites doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. The quality of online magazine design trends have grown to cover featured post widgets, large thumbnail images, and credible mainstream sources built entirely on the web.
In this post I’d like to explore a handful of the best magazine website layouts and their most successful design trends. Whether you’re building a simple blog or hoping to launch the next Mashable, these examples are sure to spark a few design ideas. If you’re looking for tips on how to create your own magazine-style blog, don’t miss our recent article on the topic.
What I like most about AV Club’s layout is typography. All text is very crisp and easy to read, which is obviously the whole point of a magazine.
Each article page is structured like a typical news post with publishing date/time and extra author info. This gives readers a more personal connection to the content without excess nonsense.
Wired actually started off as a print magazine in the mid-90s. Today the website is their primary publication and features a very clean UI design. Articles are listed in a card layout with varying thumbnail sizes.
The contrast between images and post headlines helps to draw attention all over the page. This gives the sense of a more chaotic grid which feels reminiscent of a print magazine.
My favorite thing about TechCrunch is their live feed of news posts. Since TC publishes a tremendous number of articles each day. Their layout needs to reflect a clear method of browsing these articles with ease.
Two tabs labeled “recent” and “popular” help to sort news based on visitor’s preference. You’ll also notice the site’s color scheme is very minimalist – dark/light colors contrasted by spots of green representative of the TechCrunch branding.
The Digital Trends homepage uses a big featured posts widget squeezing different thumbnail images together. This is found in many online magazines, but what I like most about their design is text contrast.
Instead of placing text on top of a faded image, Digital Trends displays text on top of a contrasted block container. Black text on white or white text on black makes for easy reading and clear comprehension of headlines.
With a multi-column magazine you have to consider the importance of each article. Most larger magazines produce voluminous content which can be difficult to wade through.
Vulture uses capriciously-sized columns that change based on page layout. In some ways this can be tough to browse, yet it offers a way to jam lots of content together onto one page.
In regards to online magazines, The Verge is a new contender that has quickly skyrocketed to popularity. I love their layout design for so many reasons – specifically the article pages that use supersized headlines to grab your attention.
Their homepage featured widget UI is also fascinating with gradient colors atop each thumbnail photo. It’s a unique trend that I’ve never seen elsewhere and clearly defines The Verge in a fashionable light.
The LA Times website is designed like a traditional newspaper. The source looks official and behaves official like you’d expect with live journalism.
If you’re going for a similar type of website stick to dark text on a white background. Avoid too many flashy gimmicks or graphics and instead focus on the quality of reporting. News websites can grow fast if they offer quality reporting and a clean design to go with it.
Compared to a general news site, Entertainment Weekly is much more about glamour. Each article relies heavily on a thumbnail to capture attention and stay “in vogue” with the latest news.
The 3-column design works well and offers a sense of contrast between certain EW feeds. I also like their top bar with sliding content that showcases a series of newly-published articles.
Here’s another great example of selling content via photos. The top header widget uses varying thumbnail sizes to hook visitors into their most recently featured articles.
TNW is also very straightforward with content. Each post title is given the full width of the page to capture attention, followed by a smaller thumbnail image and clear paragraphs. This design is commonly used in digital magazines that drive traffic through social accounts.
New Scientist has a somewhat smaller design that almost resembles a blog. It has featured posts and a typical homepage feed, but the articles flow in a much more common fashion. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with this and it works to the magazine’s advantage for keeping attention in one area of the page.
If you browse Esquire’s homepage you’ll notice a lot of white space between posts. This space is a heavy contrast in comparison to a site like TechCrunch where news is crammed into the layout.
This extra whitespace offers breathing room and a chance for readers to focus intently on a handful of articles at once. This design may not work for a high-volume publication but depending on the audience it may actually improve conversions.
My favorite aspect of The Onion’s design is the variation of content widgets. You’ll find many different feeds for news including comics, videos, and breaking topics. Sometimes you’ll find user-submitted posts or even polls geared towards readers of The Onion.
Their design is simple very much like an online newspaper with a heavy focus on content. The design itself feels a little stern, but still delivers exactly what you’d expect in a clear-cut manner.
High contrast is used in USA Today’s website to create distinctions between content areas. Large news headlines rely on the black/white color contrast to draw attention.
Their layout also has a lot of sidebar content for related posts. These lists help drive readers further into the site after landing on an article page.
The Fast Company website is one of my favorites in the space of online magazines. Their design feels very professional yet quirky at the same time. Typography take center stage and provides a clear way of addressing content to the reader.
Each article page uses large paragraphs with extra space to keep focus where it belongs. Fast Company likes to combine serif with sans-serif and these variations produce a truly eccentric layout design.
The homepage of Salon is very simple yet surprisingly elegant. The magazine does rely on photos but has many smaller widgets that rely solely on text-based links. This is yet another design that prefers the contrast of black & white colors together.
If you’re going for a mix of hard news + creative stories, The Atlantic might offer the perfect inspiration. Their website reads just like a traditional magazine with many newspaper-style elements.
Again you’ll find that typography plays a big role along with grid structure. Page sections are split up based on grids where content is organized into columns and separated according to category(new, rising, popular, breaking). If you’re going for a more serious design The Atlantic has many great features worthy of consideration.
The ZDNet magazine layout is one of my favorites because it feels incredibly modern and easy to browse. Attention has been paid to user experience in regards to navigation, content structure, and readability.
ZDNet uses webfonts like Raleway to offer a custom feel. Text is incredibly crisp along with links and social sharing badges. The ZDNet design has so many colors and bold features that keep you attached to the site & curious to read more. Study this layout and similar magazine websites to see if you can replicate this same “sticky” feeling in your own design work.
And for more magazine web design inspiration check out these related posts: