Horacio Silva is responsible for helping T Magazine emerge as a distinctly modern, sought-after incarnation of The New York Times’ Style Magazine. Silva was the news and features director the last time we spoke to him, but he has since assumed duties as the online director and has helped push the magazine into a new era of web-savvy editorial and style. The newly redesigned website combines the magazine with the similarly popular The Moment blog for an online destination that is user-friendly, endlessly readable and the seminal resource for all things relating to luxury and design. Silva lets the JC Report in on the decision for an online makeover, his editorial balancing act and what readers will gain from the new website.
JC Report: Why was it time to merge The Moment blog with T Magazine?
Horacio Silva: We were really pleased with T Magazine online and The Moment blog, with the continuous stream of information generated over the past two years. I think we did a great job of drawing a line in the sand and differentiating ourselves from the competition—even if I do say so myself. The Moment in particular generated a fair bit of cultural traction, but we wanted to bring that continuous and diverse coverage to the site to give our users the best of the blog and the magazine in one destination.
JCR: What prompted the move from an image-heavy look to a more minimal approach?
HS: We moved away from a flash-based site to an HTML platform, which gives us greater editorial and technological capabilities for managing a continuously updated, daily magazine. I don’t think the images have been in any way short-changed, despite the increase in negative space—if anything, the images now get even more play. We have created multimedia templates that do a better job of showcasing our terrific image- and product-based features, and images are bigger in the new site than they were in the previous design. On most of our slideshows and interactives, users have the option to click on “full screen” and have the images fill your screen.
JCR: Was the change a business, operational, or aesthetic decision?
HS: All of the above, really. We wanted to give the site a vital new look and take advantage of our integrated web and print newsroom. More than any publication that I can think of, our editorial team is really hands-on with the site. Trust me, it’s definitely not an afterthought and the web is very much a part of our workday—across the board. From a business perspective, the new layout and design of the site make it more accessible for advertisers across categories. The new site can now feature the standard ad units we run on NYTimes.com, including some of the new immersive Online Publisher Association units, and advertising campaigns can be integrated into packages sold across the site.
JCR: Has the merging of content made the editorial process easier for you to manage?
HS: It’s been a blessing and a curse. By putting content from the magazine alongside content that’s exclusively made for the web—as opposed to having them live in two discrete destinations—we are able to surface a lot of great stuff that never really bubbled up to the top in the past. As a result, we have a lot more constantly refreshed content. But it’s a big beast that needs nonstop feeding and with that comes challenges in the managing and scheduling of that content. In the end though, I think it just made everyone a lot more organized and mindful of how our online coverage complements the print side. Bear in mind that in addition to the 15 issues of T each year, we also have a biweekly presence in the Sunday Styles section of the Times, so it’s a problem I’m happy to have had.
JCR: How have you incorporated Web 2.0 features into the new site?
HS: We integrated The Moment’s Twitter feed onto the site with prominent placement on the homepage. The new design also features a suite of tools that give users the ability to directly share content to Facebook, Digg and other popular social and bookmarking sites. The site is now much friendlier for searching, opening up the content to a new audience to search for their favorite products. But as with any web initiative, it’s an iterative process and we’re nowhere near done with offering innovations for our users so stay tuned.
JCR: How has the response been from your peers and readers?
HS: We have received great feedback from our peers in the publishing, development and design communities, who have responded enthusiastically to the homepage scaling and scrolling devices and to the general improvement in the engagement of the site. And the visible uptick in user comments speaks for itself.
JCR: What does this change mean for your loyal readers?
HS: Other than peace, love and happiness? The new site gives readers the best of what they have come to love in print by publishing each issue in its entirety, while offering new online features and something new every day. The navigation is also much more intuitive. There is now a separate culture section with exclusive online content, and each area of coverage (Women’s Fashion, Men’s Fashion, Travel, Design, Food and Culture) has its own subsection. And, the contents of each T Magazine issue are archived on the site and are easy to find.
It’s hard not to sound like a pitch-guy in a late-night infomercial, but—wait!—there’s more. With this design, T‘s marquee columnists and contributors, who are also writing exclusive content for the site, are more prominently displayed. And our popular videos have their own player on the homepage and are archived in a video library. Overall, it’s a more engaging, immersive and useful experience and that can only be a good thing for our loyal users.
This interview was conducted by Robert Cordero