Huffington Post marks 10th anniversary with new look

arianna

The Huffington Post is marking its tenth anniversary with the first substantial redesign of the site since it was created.

The fresh look, which was launched on its mobile site this week, will still feature its signature Splash, the jumbo-sized headline that greets readers at the top of the page. That was off limits to the designers.

In addition, the site will also roll out a new mobile app and fresh editorial elements.

Despite the changes and the enormous growth the site has enjoyed over the past 10 years, editorial director Danny Shea cites the quick way the redesign was carried out - six months - as evidence that the site's culture has not changed.

"That's what we care about: being nimble, really reducing hierarchy and bureaucracy," Shea said in an interview last week. "It's not the kind of environment we aim to have."

As the site's head of marketing Jordan Jayson put it: "Most places would spend 18-24 months arguing over what shade of green to use."

Jayson, who oversaw the redesign, said the Huffington Post prefers to "move much more quickly than that."

"I know a lot of companies like to say that they stick to their start-up roots, but we're really serious when we say that," she said. "We still act very much like a start-up when it comes to these things."

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The Huffington Post's redesigned mobile site.

The redesign will initially only apply to the Huffington Post's mobile and international sites. If you visit the site today on your desktop computer, you'll continue to see the same layout that's been largely unchanged over the last 10 years. The broader redesign will likely come by the end of the year.

The Huffington Post is also launching a new mobile app called RealTime that is expected to be available for download on Thursday. The app will offer content posted chronologically in a feed. Users will be able to customize the app, determining which of the site's international editions show up in their feed. Taking a cue from other apps, RealTime will allow users to signal which stories they like and dislike by swiping left or right.

"This is for the news junkies," Shea said. "It's an addictive experience."

The site launched on May 9, 2005 at a time when much of the news media was still wary of bloggers. Arianna Huffington, the Huffington Post's founder and editor-in-chief, said that the site gave legitimacy to the medium. From the start, the Huffington Post published blog posts from an impressive assortment of thinkers and celebrities, offering ruminations from the likes of Larry David and Norman Mailer.

"We changed the way bloggers are perceived," said Huffington.

At this point, that part of the site's legacy almost seems quaint. A decade after its launch, the Huffington Post has evolved into an online juggernaut with 850 employees and 90,000 bloggers around the world. It's regularly ranked as the top publisher on Facebook, and the site's traffic numbers have surged since it was acquired by AOL four years ago. In 2011, the Huffington Post had about 30 million monthly unique visitors. The site now claims it averages more than 200 million monthly unique visitors.

The AOL acquisition, Huffington said, has helped the site develop a "mature journalistic operation." Some of the Huffington Post's most robust investment has come in video production. The site debuted a live-streaming channel, HuffPost Live, nearly three years ago. This year, the site has established a goal to have video in half of all of its content.

Related: Coming soon to the Huffington Post: documentaries and scripted shows

huffington post realtime

The redesigned site will be better-equipped to support video "and lots of it," Shea said.

The Huffington Post is marking the anniversary with editorial endeavors, too. The site announced late last month that it will launch a new longform project called "HuffPost Highline." Under the leadership of Greg Veis and Rachel Morris, two former editors at The New Republic, "Highline" will publish a new story every week.

The site also recently unveiled its "Next Ten" campaign, through which it will partner with CrowdRise to "shine a light on 10 causes for which we believe meaningful strides can be made in the 10 years to come."

The site, at times characterized as a liberal answer to the conservative Drudge Report, has never been shy about where it stands on certain issues. Shea said it's part of what distinguishes the Huffington Post from other outlets.

"What's different about us from other sites and other news organizations is that we have values that we're not afraid to talk about," Shea said. "We're not impartial observers of the news. We kind of don't think that truth exists directly in the middle on every story."

Huffington echoed that point, decrying the "tired, obsolete way of looking at everything through a right-left prism." She said the site has "zero partisanship."

"Our position is to look at issues through the public interest," she said.

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