August 13, 2014 7:45am
“It takes a village.”
One often hears the phrase associated with humanitarian endeavours, but it also applies to homegrown businesses like ours. In six years, MobileSyrup has grown from a small blog run by one person into Canada’s most popular source for mobile news and reviews. With a team of three permanent staff and a fantastic crew of part-time contributors, the site has expanded from a blog into a portal.
But the design hasn’t kept up with our massive scope. We’ve been trying to squeeze various types of articles into a single format, and have found that some pieces — wonderful, thoughtful editorials to important pieces of news — get lost in the sheer volume of content. With MobileSyrup 3.0, we have tried to address all of those concerns.
Search & Categories
First, the MobileSyrup you know and love is not going anywhere. We’re still going to be the best place for Canadians to consume news and reviews, but we’ve made it easier to find the content you want and avoid the stuff you don’t.
To that end, we’ve done two important things: beefed up our search capabilities; and overhauled the Category system. The former makes it easier to find older articles that contain certain keywords, phrases or titles. While this sounds fairly straightforward, anyone who’s used our search feature before understands that it wasn’t just bad, it was practically unusable.
The new Category system makes it far more intuitive to find all the articles for a certain manufacturer, carrier or platform. We understand that some of you come to MobileSyrup for specific reasons, whether it’s to catch up on the latest Samsung news or Rogers price plans, so we’ve made it easier to follow just those channels.
Here’s where things get interesting. We know that you guys love to stay up to date on the latest happenings across every facet of the mobile cycle, be in cross-platform app updates, slight changes to phone plans, or minor device releases in other parts of the world. Because we’re a small team, we can’t always report every piece of news we’d like to; our WordPress-based CMS is just too limiting in that sense.
Enter Simple Syrup. With it, we’ll be able to deliver more updates, more quickly, without disrupting the flow of the homepage. We will push the content to our social feeds like any other post, but the home page will show each update as a snippet, sort of like an ongoing ticker.
In terms of volume, we’re still working on that. We’re going to gauge reader response to see if the number of updates are overwhelming, and use feedback to pare back or increase Simple Syrup output.
We now have dedicated sections for the SyrupCast, the best mobile podcast for Canadians. New episodes will be added, as usual, through a dedicated post, but there is also a front page dropdown menu with the latest episodes close at hand. We know that users have been struggling to find the latest podcast, so this dedicated space should give the content the constant exposure it deserves.
New home page and sections
The most obvious change to MobileSyrup is the new home page layout. Gone is the blog-like photo-title-text monotony of the current layout, replaced with a dynamic view that morphs with each published article. We’re still going to feature our best work, like Tête-à-Tête, editorials and featured interviews, on the top of the home page, but other content will be easier to find.
We’ve worked really hard to make searching for content a better experience, but we also know that readers want to get to certain sections more easily. We’re going to have dedicated pages devoted to content from CES, Mobile World Congress, IFA and others, so it will be much easier to draw down on certain subject matters.
We also knew that our sections needed a bit of work, so we’ve made it easier to find product news and reviews across various categories: smartphones, tablets, wearables, accessories, games, apps and automotive.
Our Buyers’ Guides have also been revamped, and we are committed to keeping them updated more regularly than before.
Finally, we’ve launched a how-to section called Ask MobileSyrup that offers easy-to-follow guides on how to accomplish tasks on your smartphone or tablet. Look out for more of these as we move into the new product season. Keep a look out for those and more soon.
Our reviews are now ad-free, and contain special formatting to make them easier and more pleasant to read. We’ve overhauled the site’s font for optimal readability on both desktop and mobile devices, and you’ll notice that in addition to full-width images throughout, we now support multiple galleries and an improved score section.
MobileSyrup 3.0 is more than just a site redesign. In the past few months, our team has grown from two to four writers, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to bring you excellent content. To that end, we plan to relaunch our forums with a renewed focus on covering the various handset manufacturers, carriers and products that you love to chat about.
And in our quest to be a portal for Canadian mobile users, we’re going to be launching a number of features, like outage and coverage maps for every carrier, with real-time updates.
We’re also laser-focused on bringing you higher-quality longform content. We’ve implemented a new editorial structure to ensure that we’re constantly updating the site even as our writers are working on longer pieces like reviews, editorials and interviews.
Also stay tuned for Syrup Shop, a place to buy all the smartphone accessories that we love talking about on the site.
We’ve also got a bunch of other great real-world stuff up our sleeves, including the first in what we hope to be a series of MobileSyrup meetup events. We can’t say more at the moment, but it’s going to be fantastic!
Without making this sound like a sales pitch, let us assure you one thing: MobileSyrup may be changing, but we’re staying the same in the ways that matter. We’re still going to cover Canadian mobile content better than anyone else, and our scope is both wider than our local competitors and narrower than the US-based sites that focus on devices and plans we’ll never seen.
Expect more Android app reviews, more SyrupCasts, more video reviews more…everything.
And thanks for reading: this site wouldn’t be what it is without your support!