Everyone in the Twitterverse — @efortiz, @arainert, @jonesabi — is talking about the launch of Shine today so I had to check it out for myself. Shine from Yahoo! is a new website that is meant to be a destination for women between the ages of 25 and 54. On their About Us page, they said their mission is “to avoid all of the common categories that advertisers or marketers tend to put us in,” but then they go ahead and use the same ridiculous categories anyway:
Fashion & Beauty. Healthy Living. Entertainment. Parenting. Love. Sex. Work. Money. Food. At Home. Astrology. They might as well have put Housekeeping, Sewing and Hairstyles on there. It’s like when you say you’re not a bitch, you probably are.
Enough. I’m not going to talk about their content. It speaks for itself. But I am going to take a moment to talk about their design. Their page layout seems to be from the CNN.com school of thought: three columns, strongly compartmentalized content areas, lots of white space…even the lead story graphic is in the same exact spot. The homepage is outrageously long (five full page heights), in contrast to CNN (3 heights) or even The New York Times (also 3). A lot of the font sizes are exaggeratedly large, which I suppose is meant to seem playful (unlike ESPN which uses really small font just about everywhere). It is certainly easier to scan and a hell of a lot cleaner than Glamour or Elle or, the bain of my existence, iVillage, in all pink.
What really caught my eye however is the quick “page tour” that’s offered up to new visitors. I’m glad I took snaps along the way because I can’t find a way to get it back.
On your first visit, a “Welcome to Shine” layer appears on the page. A close-up of the layer is below. It says, “Shine features the best writers and bloggers in women’s publishing. Plus, connect with like-minded women, share stories and more. Take a ten-second tour to see more.”
Hit the Continue button and this bubble appears above the inbox. “Click to see if you have new mail in your inbox without having to leave the site.” By this they mean Yahoo! mail of course.
Click Continue again and now a bubble points out the sidebar content. “View the latest and most interesting blogs submitted by Shine’s audience.”
One last click and the page scrolls all the way down to the bottom section titled Right Now on Shine. The bubble reads: “Save time and see all of the latest headlines and top articles on Shine all in one place.”
Clicking “Get Started” ends the tour and brings you back to the top of the page.
I was really impressed by this super quick treatment for first-time visitors and its implementation is flawless. It doesn’t feel forced, overdone or gimmicky. It’s actually helpful in getting situated. And once the tour was complete, I felt like I had a better understanding of the layout and didn’t need to spend a ton of time scanning for clues.
Despite my obvious lack of enthusiasm for the subject matter, I think this is a great case study for heavily content-focused sites that need to attract and retain readership. I’ll definitely be referring to it in the future when discussing “onboarding” functionality. Read what Mashable has to say about Shine, and check out another cool example of onboarding at Alex Rainert’s Everyday UX.
Are there any women (or men) out there who think they’ll start using Shine? Not a chance in hell? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.
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