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Eye relaunches

Eye Weekly, is a Toronto based publication targeting Canada’s urban 18 – 34 year old demographic has recently completed the relaunch of their website with the help of Visible Media & Hog Town Consulting. I took a minute to discuss the project with Patrick Dinnen from Hogtown Consulting about the project.
Why the re-launch? There were three main things driving the re-launch.

First to modernise the look and feel of the site. Eye Weekly was something of a pioneer in online publishing, they’ve been doing it since 1992 I believe. However, other than relatively small changes, the way the site looked hadn’t changed all that much in the years since then, so an overhaul was overdue.

Second was to provide a solid platform for adding new, web-specific functionality in the near future. Although the re-launch was mostly about look-and-feel, there are many plans for adding online tuned content and features and we needed a solid base in place from which to launch those features.

Third was to increase the size and quality of the online ad inventory for Eye Weekly. Not very exciting from a visitor’s perspective, but it helps pay the bills.

What are some new things that have been added? One new feature, that was launched as part of the re-launch, was a section of the site dedicated to the Toronto Fringe Festival. This was a heavily customised WordPress blog install with two specific aims: to allow the Arts Editor to get reviews of all 137 Fringe shows online very quickly, every show in the Fringe being reviewed by an Eye contributor within 24 hours of its first run. The second aim was to allow visitors to the site to leave their own reviews of the shows they had seen.

The Fringe section was a huge success, generating over 1,000 user submitted reviews and gathering a huge number of visits and pageviews during the run of the Fringe. This is the type of web-tuned feature I’m really keen to see more of. We took resources that Eye Weekly have lots of, experienced writers, and using a relatively simple technical solution created something that’s greater than the sum of the parts. Of course all the shows were reviewed in the paper as well, but having almost immediate access to reviews of every show and being able to read what others thought was really valuable.

What success has been experienced so far? In terms of stats in general, there has been a significant increase in
both visitors and pageviews since the site relaunched. There are plenty of plans in the pipeline to keep both of those growing.

To jump on a current tech bandwagon, I think Eye probably have a great potential for exploiting the long tail of content they have published online. There are obvious hits at the head of the curve, the homepage of this week’s issue or the current horoscope for example. Then there is this huge back catalogue of older columns and stories that are already online. Driving some of the site’s traffic down that tail is one opportunity that we have been thinking about. Obviously lots of the content has a best before date, few people want to read about the election before last for example. But perhaps someone reading a piece on a band or artist in this week’s issue would be interested in reading exploring older stories to see what the band’s first album was like or how the artists style has developed.

Why did you add a blog? The Eye blog predates my involvement, my predecessor Gabe Sawhney worked
on that. A blog is an obvious fit with Eye’s strengths I think. They have lots of interesting writers who know an awful lot about what’s going on in Toronto. But only a small proportion of their potential output gets printed in the newspaper, because of the economic restraints attached to paper publishing. Taking some of that potential output and publishing it in a blog, where those constraints don’t exist, seems like a smart move.

Agency: Visible Media & Hogtown Consulting
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