Well, this has been a long time coming. We began thinking about the evolution of We Heart a few years ago, the subjects we covered growing in diversity, us feeling increasingly restrained but what remained a typical blog format. We wanted to tell stories; we wanted to give more to the readers who jumped on We Heart as a means to inspire their travels to new cities; we wanted to deliver more and more diverse content, but free from the daunting sense of overload that so many sites like ours can fall foul of.
Publish more and more, but simplify and declutter at the same time? Tough ask. Our existing category structure was no way to filter the substance of We Heart — whether a beautiful object that rests on the border of design and art; a new design-led restaurant; a debut exhibition by an exciting young artist … for me, the diversity already exists within contemporary culture, it is not for us to pigeonhole further. What we needed to do was present our wares in a series of new sections that could exist as entities of their own. Please, let us introduce you to the new We Heart:
Firstly, we’ve long prided ourselves on putting more into our words than a lot of websites that operate in and around our particular locale of the internet. I personally had this to say a couple of years back about the lack of critique in design-led online publishing — of course there’s plenty of great value out there, but the regurgitation of online content leaves a sour taste in our mouths, and that has led us to Journal: an area where we can begin to develop ourselves in the way we want.
Over the years We Heart has stepped behind the doors of artists’ studios; spoken to the driving forces behind contemporary restaurants and bars; grilled those who were on the forefront of the world’s most important cultural revolutions. Yet the nature of the tired blog format means these great stories can be buried quickly by news items. By creating Journal, our aim is to heighten quality, and allow space for our stories to breathe. The new-look We Heart is far from an overnight facelift, it’s a statement of intent and a progression of who we are.
As We Heart has grown, so has the subject matter, and one area that continued to develop was that of hotels; restaurants; bars; shops. Initially covered on the basis of their interior design, as We Heart matured from a straightforward design blog into a broader cultural hub, more and more readers would get in touch to ask if we had recommendations for this city or that city. We had to think long and hard about how we could present these profiles, succinctly, beautifully.
In City Notes, we are combining the latest openings from around the world with a series of detailed city guides that present this content in an easily-searchable fashion. Launching with our London City Guide (covering hotels; eating out; culture and so much more), these guides are free, carefully-curated and constantly evolving. Cities don’t stand still, the internet stands far from still, so we had to create changeable, living city guides that grow week by week. Barcelona is next in line, with plenty more to be released as the months go by.
Long-time readers might remember our Stuff Crush feature, a weekly résumé of the products that had us fanning ourselves down. Interior objects; fashion; publications; technology; tools for living — a subject area we’ve mildly neglected of late, Team We Heart are raring to get at it again.
Our passion for product has never waned, but feeling that our existing format couldn’t take the clutter of countless features daily, we slipped this sort of content onto the backburner — knowing that the new We Heart would afford us the luxury to delve deep into our stuff fantasies once again. Well here we are, itching to drop shiploads of stuff, with a platform capable of delivering it the way we want.
One of the more cryptically-named of our new sections, The Edit takes its name from Stuff Crush sibling The Weekend Edit, another former weekly feature that dealt in enhancing your weekend through cultural redemption. In other words: an events listing. The Edit runs in tandem with City Notes, listing global happenings — in arts, design, fashion, food and more — alongside a dedicated Edit of events happening in cities that we have launched city guides for.
Ergo, The London Edit is the first city-dedicated events guide (which will inevitably grow as the new We Heart beds in), with more cities arriving very soon. What’s that you say? You saw Time Out looking over its shoulder?
How are we doing at the back? I realise this is a bit like an Apple Keynote, but we’re excited here — so spare us the yawns. This section is not named after the Channel 4 news programme, for those asking, but it is indeed linked to current affairs. Rather those in the realm of contemporary culture.
As with other sections of the new We Heart, there are areas of content that we’ve long wanted to include on the site, but have refrained from in the name of clutter and confusion of priorities — we wanted to be able to drop brief stories that are related to We Heart themes, but didn’t want to distract from the meatier articles. Now freshly dedicated to aiding your need to keep fingers firmly on pulses, Dispatches is here to chronicle the latest nuggets of culturally-minded news.
Welcome to your bonus beats: as we worked through plan after plan, design after design, one key consideration was how great stories were so quickly buried by the blog format. Giving them space in Journal was one way to slow down the ephemeral nature of the internet, but aside from simply stroking our own egos, we wanted to find a way to give more value to our readers. Looking to the heritage of print publishing, we wanted to look at ways that you could become more absorbed in what we produce.
Features brings together groups of stories, and allows us to produce series of stories, much in the same way a traditional magazine would run a special edition for a particular event. We’ve taken inspiration from the traditions of publishing because they work (that is why the renaissance of independent print publishing is so strong), but we have allowed the technology available to us to heighten these traditions and practises. Our feature on the world’s top coffee shops, for example, will be automatically updated when an exceptional new opening is featured on the site, whilst ‘cover stories’ like our special World Cup 2014 series will be more easily digestible — not to mention nicely archived for coming back to after time.
Revolution not evolution…
So that’s it. We knew we wanted to make major changes, not just to the look of the site, and not just to the build of the site, but where we were going. On all levels. What probably began life as “a bit of a redesign” has led to us assessing who we are, and what We Heart can be to you. Of course, our new platform is just the beginning — the real fun starts today.