Variety is synonymous with show business; but despite being the premier source of entertainment industry coverage for over 100 years, did not demonstrate the true value of the century-old brand. In 2013, Code and Theory was tasked with rebuilding Variety’s online experience to identify and capitalize on the publication’s most successful print products and translate them seamlessly into a digital, multiplatform experience.

Understanding Variety’s complete product offering and the problems experienced by its readers was essential in mapping out areas of opportunity for improvement. Our key insight: the article page needed to be reimagined as the epicenter of the experience – easily accessible and a doorway to further exploration.

Code and theory

To reach an article page, users were required to navigate through a labyrinth of landing pages, section fronts and redundant content. When a desired page was reached, it was a virtual dead end that finished the user’s experience; shallow promotion of content from Variety’s unrivaled archives gave users little opportunity for engagement and left few paths available other than an exit.

We developed 4 strategic initiatives to change that:

Simplifying Choices – A classification was created of clear categories with consistent tags and filters to eliminate redundancy of content across the site, to remove the burden of browsing from the user and to showcase relevant content across all devices.

Increasing Engagement – The article page was built as a viable entry point – one that encouraged sharing on social media and exploring throughout the website – by leveraging the breadth of Variety’s archival content, multimedia packages and special event coverage.

Visualizing Data – Variety’s data-driven features, such as box office figures, were highlighted and contextualized with visual content (photos, videos) to make them more engaging, actionable and sponsorable.

Expanding Ad Opportunities – A grid framework was created to maximize ad impressions and integrate ads cleanly with editorial content.

In order to rebuild the article pages effectively, we developed the groundwork upon which all components of were built: A site hierarchy was created of Variety’s coverage priorities (Movies, TV, Digital, etc.); format types such as photos and videos became easily accessible in all verticals; a responsive framework was made to ensure design integrity across digital devices; and visual guidelines were established to harmonize Variety’s digital brand identity with the respected print news source that’s vital to the entertainment industry.