Download.com Article Section

Visited by millions around the world every month, Download.com is the place where people go to discover and download new software and apps. I led the redesign of the article section for the site with a simple but engaging interface that encourages browsing.

The company

Download.com,
CBS Interactive

Platforms

Web
Mobile Web

Time

06/2018 - 08/2018
Launched at 08/14/2018

My Process

Priority Guide
Sketching
Wireframing
Mockups
Prototyping

Team Members - Roles

Sushant Sund - Design Director
Christopher Ramirez - Sr. Product Manager
Justin Prince - Sr. Software Engineer
Jon Henshaw - Sr. SEO Analyst

The Challenge

Change people’s perception of Download.com being a place for free windows software downloads

Download.com is an Internet download directory website launched about 20 years ago and its visitors are mainly desktop users coming for free windows software. Facing the fast growth of mobile apps market, the site is now providing guides, how-tos, and news to help users get news and opinions of the latest apps.

↥  The brand perception of Download.com: before and after.

The Goal

Smooth and standardize the article reading experience with a stronger editorial voice

Starting from the first article page redesign in three years, there was a lot more to think about than a format refresh. For the users, it’s important to optimize the reading experience for all the content types (guides, how-tos, and news), while for the business, it’s critical to present a stronger editorial voice for the large volume of content.

Process

01. Sketching out the content strategy

The content strategy was the first major UX hurdle to fully map out the digital experience. After gathering the requirements, I started by sketching out the priority guide, which help determine the content hierarchy based on relevance to users, with the content most critical to satisfying user needs (app discovery) higher up. In this stage, I also consider the functionalities the page may need, like the social share buttons and the newsletter sign up module.

↥  The priority guide and sketching out the options for how the Social Share button and the Newsletter Sign Up can work.

02. Clean up the layout - grid, grid, grid

The second major UX challenge was ensuring a simple and modern layout that allow users to scan the content. One problem of the previous article page is that it’s using a grid system different from all the other pages (e.g. the product download page). To ensure a consistent experience for all users across the site, the article page needed to follow the same grid system, which also gives more generous space to the main content.

↥  Current pages and desktop wireframes.
     Left - current article page and product page;
     Right - variations of the desktop wireframe using a consistent grid system.

The Solution

01. Improved reading experience

One complain we got from users were that the article pages used to be difficult to read. I adjusted the UI and the font styling to improve the reading experience and to match the style guide. Also, a recirc unit was added to adequately showcase other new and relevant articles that users may be interested in.

↥  The desktop Article Pages, before and after.

02. Stronger editorial voice

To present a stronger editorial voice, the author picture was added and the styling of the byline was updated for it to stand out from the rest of the page. In addition, to allow users to know more about the author, I also provided the design of the Author Page, which is linked to the Article Page and features the author’s bio, social accounts, and the content created by the author.

↥  Visual emphasis on the editors on the Article Page and the newly designed Author Page.

03. Ads optimization - viewability standards setup

I aimed to provide a light ad experience but viewability is a tricky problem to solve. On desktop, I got rid of a lot of ads in the right rail, which allowed a standard box ad to move up and users to focus more on the content itself. However, on mobile, the large display unit was moved down because people tended to scroll past the top sections quickly.

↥  The large ad unit was moved down on the mobile Article Page for better viewability.

04. Newsletter subscription - simple yet powerful promotion

I aimed to provide a light ad experience but viewability is a tricky problem to solve. On desktop, I got rid of a lot of ads in the right rail, which allowed a standard box ad to move up and users to focus more on the content itself. However, on mobile, the large display unit was moved down because people tended to scroll past the top sections quickly.

↥  Newsletter promotion targeted on the first-time visitors.

Results

100% traffic increase and 2.2% newsletter sign up rate

I managed the design of a standard article page with a tight deadline. The end result, a clean and light article page format, officially launched on August 14th, 2018. The unique visitors and page view had more than 100% increase and the articles got featured in prominent tech newsletters (Pocket, Flipboard, etc.) constantly since the launch.

The click through rate of the newsletter we sent out to the audience immediately went up to 20% after the launch. The 2.2 % submission CTR is now higher than when we previously were only targeting article pages, which is the highest among all the CBS Interactive brands and a great sign that the users want Download to help them discover the latest apps.

Thoughts

Teamwork makes the dream work

Ever since the launch of the redesign, the article section of the site has some huge wins in the last few years, which I can never achieve by my own. I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with and learn from different teams, including the product, development, editorial, SEO, and business growth teams. Learning how to communicate the design ideas clearly and concisely, while honoring the work we put into the project was also a huge learning moment for me.