Tuesday, September 21, 2010


during the last decade, the eventual downfall and probable disappearance of print magazines has been on the lips of media enthusiasts, and for many of us who design and work with user interfaces with their myriad of possibilities, the problems online newspapers and magazines suffer from are more than apparent and acute.

there were brief (although probably still continuing somewhere, i suppose) discussions whether blogs posed a threat to professional journalism, but as with most oppositions between pros and amateurs, there seems to exist at least some kind of a concordance about their valuable and mutually beneficial coexistence. the most obvious example of this is the inclusion of blogs written by amateurs in official newspaper and magazine sites.

bloggers also took making money to their own hands rather unexpectedly: at first there were blogshops that were an inexpensive way to create a small business on a free blog platform – a kind of a self-built catalogue online with varying methods for making purchases, but usually no additional content. by no means a disappearing breed, there are several still around the blogosphere.

moreover, many bloggers started to host a secondary site where they sell their own handiwork or items they no longer need. they're similar to the blogshops mentioned above, but these sites are indistinguishably linked to blogs by design or, if hosted by other services, such as etsy, carry the signature elements of the original blog. in fact, they resemble brand sites that combine designer/product/brand information and a separate store, and in this case the brand bloggers rely on is obviously their blogger persona.

blogshops as byproducts of otherwise non-commercial blogs are one of the creations of the merging of internet applications that take a direction that was not expected. nonetheless, lately i have noted an emerging trend that seems to be coming to meet blogger entrepreneurs halfway visually, but acts from a different angle altogether.

many conventional webstores have changed their layout to resemble blogs, such as the newly launched us site of finnish design shop. their commercial purpose is recognizable on the front page but in order to land on a page that creates a visually familiar webshop experience, you'll need to feel inspired to do some clicking. there is brief additional content, but the store is still more or less only a place to buy interesting items and learn only what is necessary to make the purchase.

nevertheless, there are further mergers that interest me now.

that is, some have gone as far as concentrating on content creation to the extent of almost hiding the shop aspect of their webstore. one of the latter example is hanna sarén's new website which differs very much from a traditional designer site+store concept, but rather suggests a digital magazine with multiple contributors or a more professionally created lifestyle blog. the site lists interesting products that are not associated with sarén herself, events that might appeal to her followers and occasionally a pop-up of a product listing that can be bought from the (still very unfinished) webstore.

the kinds like this suggest a shift in creating online content that relies on providing a fuller experience in lieu of taking the chances of ending up linked rather randomly to other sites that gather a regular following. point being, why not be the site your customers want to follow for interesting news, not only the site that's being linked to where they regularly hang out, right?

sure, it might not be for everyone. it is more time-consuming to gather and post newsworthy substance from various places and several angles: anyone who blogs knows that producing content is an effort whether we're talking pictures or text. needless to say, having others do it for you is expensive.

nevertheless, it may prove to be a lucrative venture business-wise, because keeping people at your site seems to be one of the key elements in closing a sale online. when you appeal to your potential customers at times when they do not even consider buying or browsing what's new, the chances of creating whims are greater.

what do you think? do you look for certain certain telltale signs when you land on an online store site? could you consider stores that visually resemble stores only vaguely reliable or not?

edit 22 sept: finnish design shop launched their new, bloggy look today in finland, as well.


hokey said...

interesting observation. I don't know if you keep up with the movements of uk press at all but the merging of online editorial with e-commerce seems to be reflected in a few recent appointments - eg Melissa Dick who was editor at Elleuk.com has now gone to Asos. And Jeremy Langmead who was editor at Esquire magazine has now gone to Mr Porter the menswear version of Net a Porter.

So it looks like both of those companies are heading in a more editorially driven direction, albeit on a larger scale than Hanna Saren. Seems like there's a trend emerging at the both ends of the scale...

stellagee said...

hokey, thanks for your comment! i actually have only observed the visual changes, but these appointments you tell me about make all the more sense of the phenomenon. i look forward to seeing what these mergers take us towards...