Packaging World Magazine has relaunched its Web site, Packworld.com, with several new features and capabilities:
Let's face it. The old Packworld.com had a LOT of navigation. The entire left side of the screen was taken up by it. We've dumped it, in favor of a much simpler top navigation that is re-organized more along lines of talent groups within consumer packaged goods manufacturers. For example, everything related to package development and package design is under "Package Design". Everything machinery-related is under "Machinery". Videos gets own tab. (More on videos later.)
Case studies, the mainstay of the journalism that we produce, now receive their own section in the navigation. You can drill down by market (food, beverage, healthcare, etc.) or by package type (flexible, rigid, etc.).
Our Gallery on Flexible Packaging Innovation has its own tab, and will soon be joined by galleries on labeling and rigid containers. (If you haven't seen the gallery, check it out, it's a great way to quickly see what people are doing in innovative flexible packaging design.)
And last year, we partnered with Jaz'd Markets to produce a standalone directory Web site called Packaging World Marketplace, with over 15,000 packaging products listed. That Web site has its own prominent link in our navigation.
Easier on the eyes
Media web sites are notorious for being cluttered. Packworld.com was no exception! By the time we fit in all the things we wanted you to see, it became a very busy page, especially our home page.
The new home page and section pages are deliberately cleaner and simpler with a "river-of-news" style popularized by blogging sites. This layout is designed for time-deprived executives who don't want to look in a bunch of different sections on a page, and want to quickly peruse the stories of the day.
Packaging people, especially on the development and design side, are visual people. To that end, we've put some design muscle into the look and feel of the Web site. We've paid close attention to typography, selecting fonts (PT Sans, for typography freaks) and type sizes that are both attractive and easy to read on the screen. Your eyes aren't getting any younger, so we've bumped up the type size and added spacing between the lines to make on-screen reading easier and less taxing.
In the bad old days of the Web, we had to shrink down photos to be tiny so that the file sizes wouldn't slow page load times. Today, everyone is sporting bigger screens with higher resolution. We now show thumbnails of photos (and videos) in a convenient image browser tool on the article page. You can click any image to display it in the original size. You can now actually see these photos on your big screen, large as life! Videos play in nice, big windows as well.
Related articles really are related
This is one of the improvements that while subtle is the most useful, in my view. On the old Web site, relatedness was hit or miss. We completely re-thought how relatedness works on the new web site. Under the hood of the new site is a comprehensive information architecture that lets our editors tag articles with incredible depth and precision. We commissioned the programming of an entirely new algorithm that is much more precise in the selection and display of related articles.
Our editors have undergone months of training and practice at categorizing the articles they write so that it is easy to find more of what you're looking for. It's a lot of complexity, but we've shielded you from the complexity, and instead what you see are articles that are really related to what you're viewing. It's still a work in progress and we hope to refine the algorithm and how we categorize articles to improve relatedness even more.
It's now easier to find and play videos. And the videos will work on your iPad or mobile phone. And best of all, videos shot by our editors no longer require registration. (Sponsored videos still do.)
Tablet- and mobile-friendly
We know, we know, the old Packworld.com just didn't work too well on smart phones. I really got an earful on this -- mainly from other Packaging World people who were frustrated with our own site! Well, we took a quantuum leap into the future here. Instead of creating a mobile version of our Web site, and an iPad version, and an Android version, and however other many versions we would need to accommodate a proliferation in screen sizes and resolution, we have taken a different route.
Instead we have built the Web site to dynamically reconfigure itself based on the screen size and resolution of the device you're viewing. Whole chunks of the Web site will move around, or even drop out, as your screen size shrinks. This is known as responsive design, and to my knowledge, we're the only Web site in the field of packaging, and probably one of the first in all of business-to-business media, to employ it. Whether you view our site on your desktop, laptop, iPad, or mobile, you'll get a screen experience tailored just for you. Even on your iPad, you'll see our screen reconfigure itself depending on whether you're viewing in landscape or portrait orientation. Check it out!
We don't want to sound like your mother, but you don't call, you don't write, you never let us know what you're thinking. Oh wait, that's because our old Web site didn't make it easy for you to post comments to articles! That's all changed, too. Like any modern Web site, you can post a comment to any article, and our editors will actually look at these comments! And you don't even have to register or log in in order to do so. Simply look for the "Comments" bar at the bottom of article pages, and expand it to reveal a form where you can post your comments.
Why don't you start by responding to this article and letting us know what you think about the site! Good, bad, or ugly, we want to hear your thoughts.