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A fresh coat of paint

Marking two years of Ancient World Magazine

This Saturday, November 2nd, marks the two-year anniversary of Ancient World Magazine and we’re celebrating that fact with a brand new look.

Written by Josho Brouwers on

If you’ve been reading Ancient World Magazine for a while, you’ll notice that the website looks quite a bit different now. I’ve been working on this new design for a few weeks, which explains why my output has slowed down a little. Now that the new version of the website is live, I have more time to write again.

The redesign sought to keep what I thought worked well while cutting down on clutter. I’ve kept the colour scheme and the fonts (Montserrat and Merriweather), since these are integral to the style of Ancient World Magazine. Font size has been increased for the desktop version of the website to make it more legible and a little more bold, less conventional than the previous version of the website.

Likewise, I felt that the sidebar that used to be on the right-hand part of the page (in desktop view) detracted rather than added to the experience. In redesigning the website, I felt that the actual content – the articles, the podcasts, and so on – needed to be front and centre. When you selected an article to read, you should be able to focus on just that article and not have to suffer any distractions.

A lot of the choices that I made in redesigning the website were informed by data gathered by our analytics software. We don’t use Google Analytics, relying instead on Matamo. Matomo is installed on our own servers so that we can be 100% sure that none of your personal information is shared with third parties.

Analytics revealed that a lot of stuff that was a part of the original website was hardly used. These included the topics (Greece, Rome, Persia, etc.), as well as the categories (explore, view, read, etc.), regions (Italy, Greece, Anatolia, etc.), and some other stuff you probably never knew was there. Tags are useful and some people use them, so I kept those. But everything else that didn’t seem to add to the user experience had to go.

Similarly, some information was spread out across multiple pages. For example, there was a separate page listing our Patreon backers and another about how you might support us. It made more sense, I felt, to merge those pages. Information on how to support us is now listed on the same page as out Patreon backers. Likewise, the list of contributors has now merged with our About Page, because our contributors are who create Ancient World Magazine, after all.

Our Analytics also showed that bounce was fairly high, which considering the website gets tens of thousands of visits a month, was a point of concern. The problem is that once you reach the end of a page, there’s nowhere else to go except a mass of text links that you might not immediately be interested in. I’ve tried to solve this by offering links to related articles at the bottom of every article, podcast, video, and interview.

Of course, this was quite a large set of changes and I expect that there might be a bug or two. It’d be wonderful if you could send me comments and corrections. In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to enjoy Ancient World Magazine, especially now that it – hopefully – offers a better experience than ever before.