A Look at Canada’s Best Magazine Websites

At this year’s 37th annual National Magazine Awards, macleans.ca–the website of Canada’s 103-year-old venerable news magazine–won the award for Magazine Website of the Year.

The award goes to the magazine website (either a companion site or an online-only magazine) that most successfully fulfills its editorial mission by representing the highest journalistic standards and effectively serving its intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of web-based publishing. A jury convened by the National Magazine Awards Foundation evaluates all entries and comes to a consensus on three finalists and a single winner.

With more than 2.1 million total weekly readers, Maclean’s magazine continues to be a major force in Canadian news and opinion. Online, macleans.ca is a compelling destination for political commentary and discussion, feature stories, social debate and cultural musings. Visitors get full access to exclusive online features, interactive media and the latest from its award-winning bloggers.

The Maclean’s web team presents a platform that can look great on any screen, big or small. Their grid-like display allows for easy translation to a scrollable list format on your mobile device. Functionality and content prominence are what make their simplistic design work.

“For Maclean’s, we are now presenting more information than ever before, while at the same time occupying less screen real estate until you need it,” says senior director and publisher Ryan Trotman.

Their layout choices create a site that is easily digestible and remains consistent with the way we currently consume information through social media. Our surfing habits have changed and macleans.ca has addressed this new social characteristic.

 

HONOURABLE MENTION

The judges awarded Honourable Mention in the category Magazine Website of the Year to Hazlitt and Torontoist.

Five of Hazlitt‘s most recent and popular features play on a slideshow atop the site, which was founded in 2012 as an online literary and cultural affairs magazine by Random House Canada. Sections chosen for Hazlitt’s menu bar communicate their unique role in the world of literary fiction.

Features, Blog, A/V, Comix, Fiction and Hazlitt Originals line the top of their homepage, echoing their core value in exhibiting great writing on diverse subject matter while contributing to cultural at all levels. A grid-like image and title display sits to the right of a list of their ‘most popular’ articles. Their most recent publications and twitter feed follow, appearing atop a freeform of content links organizes in blocks.

Users can scroll titles referring to subsection headings for anything that may be of interest. The style does not present the visitor with rigid sections, but rather allows the content to be displayed in a way that gives all subsections equal treatment.

“Hazlitt aspires to publish great writing on everything,” its editors told the NMAF in a statement submitted with its application. “Politics, art, the environment, film, music, law, business. Books and writers, their ideas, insights and stories, are at the heart of what we do, because books and writers are at the heart of culture, both high and low.”

Displaying a cover photo and a lead to impress visitors to ‘read more,’ the Torontoist site exhibits a format similar to what we see when we open a newspaper to scan for stories. Editor-in-chief Hamutal Dotan says this was done intentionally to challenge the idea that online magazines are somehow less informative or not as well-researched as hard copy, printed articles.

“We aim to be the home for people who really care about Toronto, who want to engage in its development and evolution, but who don’t equate formality of tone with substance,” she says.

Regular features, such as ‘Extra, Extra’ and ‘Newsstand’ are Torontoist’s way of offering curated content in what Dotan calls “a downright commitment to sharing work that other publications, including our competitors, are producing.”

In an editorial mandate received by the National Magazine Awards Foundation, the Torontoist editors referred to the site as “compulsively readable and up-to-the-minute… Torontoist is a digital magazine for the modern, edgy urbanite, eschewing categorization in order to serve and reflect a dynamic city full of people who want to learn more about the place they call home.”

Make macleans.ca, Hazlitt and Torontoist part of your summer online reading.

And congratulations to all the winners of the 37th annual National Magazine Awards.

Special thanks to Melissa Myers for her research and conducting interviews for this post.

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