We’ve made some changes on our Grist front page — in the service of a simpler, clearer, more sprightly delivery of Grist’s non-grumpy green news. We’re moving to a single, unified list of all our posts — Grist List items, Gristmill news posts, features, blog posts, columns.
Some of you have met these changes already, because we’ve been showing them, selectively, for a couple of weeks. We did something that, while increasingly the norm in the web industry, remains a little uncommon in the online journalism world: a live A/B test of our new homepage design versus the old one.
A/B testing is a kind of controlled experiment with concrete results. Thirty percent of you got the “new” Grist. The rest of you got the existing version of the site. And we looked at what happened.
What did we learn? First, judging from the absence of howls of consternation from our never shy readership, the change didn’t cause many of you to blink an eye. Second, our metrics showed that the new design actually boosted click-throughs from the homepage to story pages by enough percentage points to make a significant difference.
Of course, if you’re reading Grist on your phone, as we know more and more of you are doing, then this is how you’ve been seeing our stories for some time. The mobile theme for our site (what you see if you visit Grist on your phone’s browser) shows all our posts in a single stream. We know this works well because, hey, we read on our phones, too.
We know, too, that the homepage itself is the point of entry for a diminishing fraction of visitors to Grist. More commonly, now, you arrive on wings of Twitter or thumbs of Facebook, alight on a story or two, and flutter off. Such readers — and indeed all our visitors — are still only a click away from the complete Grist List and Gristmill pages; topics like Climate and Energy, Food, and Cities; and regulars like David Roberts and Ask Umbra.
Nothing in the world of digital publishing stands still for very long. So don’t be surprised if you keep noticing little things changing around here — we’re probably testing another new tweak. And of course let us know what you think: in comments below, here or anywhere, or via email. Thanks!