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Fox.com Rolls Out Show-Driven Redesign

Aug 22, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Fox has been quietly rolling out a wholesale makeover of its Web site, refashioning the site to make it more show-driven.
Fox Website
All of the network’s major prime-time series are being given individual homepages designed to mirror the distinct tones of the programs.
“Fringe” premiered its new site this week, with other new shows set to follow in coming weeks.
The Fox.com homepage also has been radically revamped and given a simpler design that emphasizes the site’s video assets. The new homepage shares some thematic DNA with Hulu.com, the video portal co-owned by Fox parent News Corp.
“A lot of video Web sites are moving in this direction,” said Hardie Tankersley, vice president of online content for Fox, referring to the clean look of the homepage.
Since the revamp began rolling out in late July, the homepage has featured just a handful of content assets, divided mostly between previews of new shows and streaming video of full episodes of current Fox shows.
“We did a lot of research into what people are looking for from a network Web site, and we tried to design the site around those needs,” Mr. Tankersley said, adding that his division “is always trying to balance the promotional needs of the network with the informational needs of the consumer.”
Fox's Fringe Website
Indeed, in the not-so-distant past, many network Web sites—including Fox’s—resembled carnival midways, filled with screaming promotions for various projects. The result was that nothing really had an impact.
“One of the reasons we have this clean design is that we want the content to stand out,” Mr. Tankersley said. “We keep it clean so that people can get what they want easily.”
But while the Fox.com homepage is pretty streamlined, the individual show sites are packed with information. Much of the content is syndicatable, with Fox aggressively pushing to convince fans to put show-branded widgets on their blogs, Web sites and Facebook pages.
Mr. Tankersley said the show sites try to meet two goals.
The first is giving consumers quick information about a series—when it’s on, who stars in it, recaps of past episodes. Then there’s what Mr. Tankersley calls “the immersive experience,” where fans can dig down deeper into a series’ mythology and history.
What’s key is making sure the show sites don’t seem generic.
“All the shows are different, so we try to create a different world for each show,” he said.
Fox's Bones Website
Even elements of the sites that are consistent, such as a countdown widget that lets fans keep track of the hours and minutes until the return of their favorite Fox show, will vary from show to show.
The other key component of the Fox.com strategy is directing audiences away from the main Web site and onto the dozens of other show-themed sites Fox is launching. For “Fringe,” for example, that means putting viewers on the road to ImagineTheImpossibilities.com, a Fox-owned site filled with both real and fictional examples of “fringe” science.
“There are a bunch of other sites there as well (tied to ‘Fringe’),” Mr. Tankersley said. He declined to name the sites, however, declaring, “Part of the fun is discovering them.”
One other recent addition to the Fox.com portfolio has been “Future on Fox,” a regularly updated blog that keeps track of both internal and external buzz surrounding Fox shows in development.
“We have a lot of interesting stuff going on with our new shows, but we don’t launch a site for a show until a few weeks before it premieres,” Mr. Tankersley said. The blog gives the network a chance to start promoting its content the moment it hits the development cycle.
“We’re not trying to replace the media” or fan sites, he said. “This just gives us another place where we can interact with viewers and gauge response.”
An update to the site planned for mid-September will introduce more changes, including a design tweak in which the homepage’s background color will change each day to fit the theme of that night’s programming. The network’s new “So Fox” branding campaign also will become more apparent on the Web site.

5 Comments

  1. the sites look so much better than they used to, and a lot more user-friendly. i can see a lot of fans digging the new individual sites as well. the bones one looks sooo much better!!!

  2. Really great graphics, keep up the good work.

  3. The Bones site looks so much better! I can’t wait for Fringe to premier! I’ll have to check out the sites for The Sarah Connor Chronicles and House.

  4. Very impressive. Great work by all those involved in the revamp.

  5. Why is Fox and some other channels now broadcasting in a letter box format? All this does is shrink the screen. I cannot get a full screen picture.Is there any way to change this over?

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