The Outline’s website is basically a Snapchat Discovery channel

Joshua Topolsky’s Outline launches

The Outline’s website is basically a Snapchat Discovery channel

Joshua Topolsky’s new publication The Outline has launched. Designed in partnership with Code and Theory the website honestly feels more like a Snapchat Discovery channel than anything else.

On The Outline’s mobile breakpoint you’ll see magazine-like covers that take over take over the screen. Like a Snapchat or Instagram story you can go to the next story by swiping right, or you can read the story by scrolling beyond the fold. And also like Snapchat’s Discover channels, which use video to deliver article headlines alongside video, motion and sound, The Outline’s whittled website provides motion through CSS animation.

Beyond that The Outline is focusing on a magazine reading experience, which may or may not pay off in the long run. Advertisements, for example, appear every few swipes in full screen and, so far, with custom design. In articles advertisements either appear as custom cards, which can be flicked through by the user without losing their place in an article, or as bright, colourful ad slots. The Outline is seemingly trying to take back some of the ad power from social media hotshots like Facebook and Snapchat by making ads stand out and appear interesting and hand-crafted. The magazine comparison once again stands.

In terms of content it’s not yet too clear how The Outline will update and how often. At launch a number of the site’s articles are thinkpieces, alongside some aggregation and feature writing. After criticising conventional journalism for the entirety of its existence it is strange to see The Outline launch with such similarly shallow content. And whether anyone actually wants to read the long article titled “CALLING A TV SHOW “FEMINIST” DOESN’T MAKE IT FEMINIST” is also not really something I know just yet. Another launch article, “KANYE WEST IS A HUMAN BEING”, also stands out as being well-trodden and not exactly a train of thought that can be sustained over a few hundred words without some question of “why am I reading this?”. It feels like The Outline may want to preach to the choir with predictable, skimpy thinkpieces that don’t actually challenge anyone as so far as confirm existing beliefs.

On social media The Outline is posting to Instagram Stories with videos that mimics the site’s design. On Facebook and Twitter it’s your traditional comment and link affair. The publication is also launching with a third podcast (second excluding Tomorrow?) called Sound Show With the website.

And while I don’t know where The Outline is going with all of this, at least when it comes to design and technical quality, nobody can say The Outline isn’t unique.

A quick DM-sesh with Joshua Topolsky — gloss_profiles
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