Today CoinDesk launches a completely redesigned website, crafted to match the needs of our rapidly expanding – and increasingly mobile – audience. Articles are easier to read, our price pages put more information at your fingertips, and the homepage is a better showcase for all of our content. We think our new logo looks pretty snazzy, too.
The changes aren’t just skin deep. The site also has a new engine behind the scenes: an entirely new content management system (CMS) and digital experience platform called Arc XP. Used by several prominent media companies (most notably the Washington Post, which first built it for its own newsroom’s needs and then offered it up to other organizations like it), Arc is a CMS designed specifically for publishers. We’re excited to roll out a site with such a firm foundation, and we’ll be leveraging its highly scalable platform to offer even more innovative experiences in the coming months.
Why such a dramatic shift? Easy – we had to.
It would be hard to think of an industry in today’s world more dynamic than digital assets. Glancing at the sector today versus a year ago, you quickly understand that rapid change is the norm. But even by crypto standards, what’s happened in recent months has been transformative; when digital assets inspire skits on SNL, you know something big is happening.
Even for a purely digital publication like CoinDesk, keeping up with all this change is a tough job. The audience for CoinDesk is no longer just crypto enthusiasts, traders, professional investors and the like – the site now regularly reaches a vast audience of everyday, tech-savvy people who can plainly see the rising influence of this industry and want to learn more.
While CoinDesk has always had excellent designers and product managers improving our platform over the years, it’s become clear that incremental upgrades are no longer what was called for. To meet the challenge of today’s crypto audience, we needed to re-engineer the site from top to bottom.
That’s a huge task, and one that fell squarely on the shoulders of our chief product officer, Mina Azimov. When Mina joined CoinDesk last fall, there was already a growing recognition that our site was pushing its WordPress-based roots past their limits. With the mandate to both update the design of the site AND modernize our back end, Mina built a team and focused its efforts around taking our platform to a new level.
Prior to today’s launch, I spoke with Mina to talk about the new CoinDesk, and what it says about today’s crypto audience.
Pete Pachal: Why now? Why is this the time to redesign CoinDesk?
Mina Azimov: CoinDesk has seen exponential audience growth as crypto interest has become increasingly more mainstream. We went from 2.5 million unique visitors per month to more than 30 million. So we felt it’s time to give that audience more reasons to be engaged by giving them a fuller experience.
With such massive growth, it’s not just numbers – the nature of the audience is changing. A bigger audience has different demands of websites, especially media websites. How does this change respond to that?
We’ve gone from a crypto audience to now we’re moving into a mainstream audience. Two to three days after I joined [CoinDesk], PayPal made an announcement, saying that they would let customers buy bitcoin. And shortly after, Tesla made the announcement that they’d be accepting bitcoin. And JPMorgan, and other major financial institutions have joined in. And then there was a huge interest from a “discovery” audience – wanting to learn more about crypto and possibly find ways to invest. And these are (largely) millennials and Gen Zers that are really interested in investing in crypto.
How do you balance that “discovery” audience with CoinDesk’s traditional audience? Obviously everyone wants more eyeballs, but how do you ensure that you’re not leaving core readers behind?
In order to hit that perfect chord, we’ve done user testing on our new design to make sure it’s appealing and sending the right messaging – delivering the right type of information for different kinds of audiences. One of the ways we’re doing that is with our redesigned Learn section, now called Crypto Explainer+. It’s a full experience that will help you navigate the crypto world regardless of your level.
For Crypto Explainer+, we’ve also injected difficulty levels that are matching to the content type. Whether that’s beginner, intermediate or expert level, it’ll provide you with the right type of right level of educational information that you’re going to need.
In subsequent weeks, we’ll have crypto “crash courses,” which were inspired by Instagram stories. Of all the Explainer+ features, it performed the best in user testing. It’s designed for a mobile experience, which makes up a significant percentage of our readers. It’s short and concise, with animations and illustrations. You can select different topics, such as what you need to know about bitcoin, and it’ll walk you through a story to play through various chapters.
Why the name Crypto Explainer+?
We went through dozens and dozens of various names. There were some that we absolutely loved, but they were taken. We user-tested all of them. This one scored the best, and it was still available. It’s creative enough, and yet its message is unambiguous. And it seemed to resonate with all the different types of audiences we have at CoinDesk.
What are some of the other site features that we might see in the coming weeks?
We’re going to have a single sign-on (SSO), which will give our audience a very personalized experience. That’s happening by the end of the year. We’ll also be rolling out $DESK on the site ($DESK is CoinDesk’s own digital token, with no monetary value), which we introduced in beta phase during Consensus earlier this year. It will be a way to encourage users to engage more deeply with various types of content on CoinDesk.
Can you talk a little bit about price pages? A price page can be aimed at retail investors and newbies, and it can also appeal to institutional and professional traders. What is CoinDesk’s approach to this?
Our Price Pages drive the lion’s share of entrances onto CoinDesk.com, but there are a lot of price pages out there. So we did a very deep competitive analysis, both across the crypto landscape and outside of crypto. We tested extensively and came up with the new price page design to meet most of our audience’s needs. It has a variety of information on the page that’s easy to navigate and find. We’ve also partnered with IntoTheBlock for some metrics, such as social sentiment – which was a favorite with the audience we tested.
Tell me about the new homepage, which these days typically isn’t a reader’s first stop.
The homepage is the face of the site – thus, we wanted to bring the look and feel of our homepage closer to the news outlet mission that’s core to CoinDesk’s brand and identity. Also, it doesn’t matter whether you’re coming through an article or a price page – no matter where you are on the page, it’s very natural to click on the primary logo and go to the homepage. Thus, we wanted to make sure the main top navigation on the homepage was straightforward and that all the information is categorized clearly.
Mobile audience is a big deal. You mentioned the “crash courses” that cater directly to that, but what else can people expect in the future?
We will be rolling out a mobile app in conjunction with our $DESK wallet coming next year. It’s going to have the prices feature with the ability to create a watch list and other features to help the audience engage more with our content.
How are you measuring the success of all this?
Right now, we have a great audience reach, but our audience engagement needs to grow. With our new site design, the single sign-on, and the mobile app, it’ll be much easier to understand our audience and measure their affinity with us. The more our audience comes back and engages with us, the better. That’s how we’ll see how successful we are.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.