Things look a little different around The Verge today. Very different. Like a thousand lasers shining through your mind, pointing at the future.
The Verge turns five today, and we’re marking the occasion with a refined logo, a new design system that extends into video, photography, and events, new article pages and a homepage built on the next generation of Vox Media’s Chorus platform, and a renewed editorial focus on how technology will change life in the future. It’s big — one of the biggest projects ever undertaken at Vox Media, in fact. And I think it’s incredible.
First, our new wordmark is a slight refinement — we’ve cleaned up the serifs, made it sharper, and generally brought it forward so it renders better at small sizes across mobile platforms. We’ve also tweaked the various colorways of our triangle logo, and created a new system of treatments for our various sections on all the social platforms they live on. There’s also an updated Vergecast logo, which you’ll see this week. But the big changes are our new design system and our new web platform.
Our new design system is called Pathways, and it’s built to scale from elements on a web page to motion graphics in videos to physical structures at events. It’s made to pop with bright colors and illumination; I think it looks like a neon sci-fi dream. We’ve also updated our main typefaces, from DIN Condensed to Heroic, and from Adelle to Adelle Sans — refinements that work better on small screens and improve our overall legibility while preserving the character of our brand.
The first place you’ll notice the new Pathways language is on the homepage and article pages, which are all built on the next generation of Chorus, codenamed Unison. There is so much to say about Unison, which has been a years-long project inside Vox Media, but the thing you’ll see first is that the web pages it creates are faster. Much, much faster: 25-50 percent faster in our early tests. And this new version of Chorus is more than a "Content Management System" for web pages: it’s designed at the core to make creating stories easier and to distribute them across every platform you can imagine.
Our pages are now 25-50 percent faster
We’ve also redesigned the header and hero areas of our homepage: on desktop the header image and tagline will change often, and we’ve created a new teaser area to highlight our trademark pull quotes. (And I mean highlight: check out that gradient.) I’m ridiculously excited about the dynamic header and tagline; we have grand plans for that space over time, and you’ll see us change it early and often in these first few weeks of the redesign. This is going to be so rad.
When we launched The Verge in 2011, we relied heavily on poor-quality stock images, so we dropped bright gradients over the images in our hero to make everything look good. But we decided last year to invest heavily in photography, so now we’re pulling those gradients out to the borders and letting our images speak for themselves. The bright colors we’re known for are part of the Pathways design language, and you’ll see us integrate those ideas directly into our photography and video.
Speaking of video, Pathways was designed in direct collaboration with our video team — in the words of our creative director James Bareham, "it all has to move." New YouTube and Facebook bumpers, lower thirds, and thumbnail treatments are already rolling out, and you’ll see many more riffs on depth, space, and illumination using Pathways in our videos to come.
We also have a new bespoke typeface that you’ll see first as the dropcap treatment on our features; fittingly, it is also called Pathways. I love it. It is awesome.
What else? After extensive user research, we learned that our homepage was too hard to navigate, and that everyone just wanted to see as many headlines as possible. So under the hero, you’ll find a reverse-chronological feed of stories. It’s like a cozy sweater from our blogging roots. But don’t worry: big reports, features, and reviews will get pinned with a new bigger treatment in that river so you’ll know when there’s something major to read.
We’ve also killed our video hub. We heard you all loud and clear: the Video link in our nav bar now takes you straight to our YouTube page. And the play buttons on homepage stories now bring up a lightbox so you can watch everything right in one place, and click a link to quickly jump into the associated article.
The Video link in our nav bar now takes you straight to YouTube
Comments have been restyled and the comment badge on stories will tell you how many new comments are on a post since you last checked. The Verge community has been incredible in these past few months; if you haven’t registered and jumped into the mix, now’s the time to do it.
And, of course, Pathways extends to platforms like Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP, and Apple News. Our pages there look as clean and bright as our web pages, and as those platforms extend their capabilities, we’ll be able to deliver more and more interesting features to audiences wherever they might be.
We’ve also updated our look on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more with new logos and Pathways imagery; the Twitter icon set in particular is wonderful. Check out this Verge Science avatar, damn.
And this is all just the first pass: we have tons more ideas knocking around (night mode! I will make this happen) and our first meeting to plan the next set of things to build is already scheduled for next week. Our forums are still on a legacy version of Chorus that we’ve restyled; we’re committed to building a bigger and badder community experience as we move that system to Unison over the next few months. And there’s more, but I’m not going to give it all away at once, you know?
If you see something broken or buggy, see a bad ad, or have another comment or concern, we’re here for you: email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @vergesupport or @voxadsupport.
I am more proud of The Verge than anything else I’ve ever been a part of in my life; what this thing has grown into over the past five years is beyond any dreams we had when we first set up a WordPress template in 2011 and called it This Is My Next. Seeing it evolve into this next iteration has been an incredible process, and the enormous cross-company team behind it has done it with equal parts enthusiasm and care. I’m going to list all of them, because they are awesome:
Lauren Rabaino and Bo Hee Kim, the product managers in charge of this project, are heroes for making this all happen on deadline, as is project manager Krystal Stevens. Our designers Georgia Cowley, Yesenia Perez-Cruz, Josh Laincz, Sanette Tanaka, Shawn Moriarty, Courtney Leonard, Victor Ware, John Fuller, Ryan Gantz, and Warren Schultheis put up with an incredible amount of essentially incoherent feedback from me and delivered something stunningly beautiful. Elite Truong, Andrew Johnson, and Jackie Goldstein brought Pathways to platforms like Google AMP and Facebook IA. And Verge creative director James Bareham and animator William Joel made Pathways move on video in ways beyond anyone’s expectations.
Unison product manager Chris Haines and developers David Zhou, Greg MacWilliam, Jesse Young, Ben Alt, and Ally Palanzi built this whole thing in record time. Dominic Vieira, Jamie McCarthy and Skip Baney made sure our migration to new underlying platforms went off without a hitch. And our support and QA team Krissy Kingwood, Jon Douglas, and Nancy Seay made sure everything worked and all the pixels were in place across a staggering number of browsers and devices.
Kyle Keller, Emma Merlis, Matt Watson, and Hart Van Santvoord put real data behind all of our big decisions. Samantha Mason, our rights specialist, put serious time into making our asset licenses work. And our director of publishing Mandy Brown not only let me insert pull quotes into her excellent piece on the future of publishing tools, but made our teaser headline field work exactly how it should.
JIll Dehnert and Casey Audino were instrumental on our revenue side, bringing on Microsoft as our relaunch sponsor, and helping us think big about the the future of The Verge as a business.
Frank Bi, Michael Zelenko, and Yuri Victor spent countless hours building our massively ambitious relaunch package, Verge 2021. I can’t wait for you to read and watch it all.
Verge executive editor Dieter Bohn, engagement editor Helen Havlak, executive video producer Tre Shallowhorn, and managing editors Ross Miller and TC Sottek are the best partners in crime I could possibly ask for. Their leadership has been instrumental in making The Verge what it is today.
The Verge crew from our first year at work still rolls deep: Thomas Ricker, Paul Miller, Vlad Savov, Tom Warren, Bryan Bishop, Dan Seifert, Adi Robertson, Ben Popper, Jake Kastrenakes, Chris Welch, Sam Byford, and Amar Toor have built just as much of The Verge as anyone, and they’ve pushed us to do bigger and better things every step of the way.
We live in the future, because there’s nowhere else to go
I also want to thank our publisher Melissa Bell, our VP of editorial Lockhart Steele, our VP of design Ted Irvine, our chief product officer Trei Brundrett, and our fearless CEO Jim Bankoff for their calm and steady guidance as we reimagined what The Verge could and should be. At every step of the way they’ve taken pains to remind our team that the goal is to build a media brand built on great journalism, strong values, and beautiful design. We’re very lucky to have their leadership at our company.
If you’ve read this far, you are the deepest possible Verge nerd, and I love you. Now, please go read and watch and comment and share all the beautiful stories you’re actually here for, dammit. We’ll do this again in five years.
As my friend Casey Newton says: The Verge! We live in the future, because there’s nowhere else to go.