A quick thought that those of us who work at magazines tend to forget: our readers really aren’t as familiar with our product as we are. Authors’ and editors’ names, section titles and how the magazine and website are organized may seem perfectly obvious to us, but to our readers, they can be confusing and unclear.
Every now and then, try to step back and imagine what your website would look like if you were visiting for the first time. Would it be easy to find what you’re looking for? (And what would you be looking for?) Does the navigation make sense? Can you easily tell what the content is about? Is the page you’re on (and it may not be the home page) interesting and attractive enough that you want to stay? Is the text readable? And is it obvious that this is the website of a magazine? (Maybe too obvious?)
Too hard a task? Find a friend that a) doesn’t work in the industry and b) doesn’t read your magazine and ask them to assess your site. Or, if you have a new staff member or intern on board, ask them to give you some honest feedback on the site before they get too used to its look and feel. You might be surprised at what they tell you.