HubSpot is undisputably a warlord of effective content marketing. Since its founding, HubSpot's Blog—the Inbound Hub—has been the place for marketers seeking inbound strategy, advice, and helpful content. With more articles published than many online magazines, HubSpot's presence in marketing-related search is nearly ubiquitous. For partner agencies like us at Weidert, we love being able to stay current on HubSpot's guidance and software updates, and we highly value the opportunity to use HubSpot's blog as a resource for our clients.
So, when yesterday morning, HubSpot announced that they had given their blog “a total makeover,” we had to check it out (and show it off)!
Like I said, HubSpot’s “Inbound Hub” blog is among the largest marketing and sales blogs on the internet. With almost half a million twitter followers and over 600 thousand Facebook fans, they’re “kind of a big deal,” as Ron Burgundy would say. But with such a large (and constantly growing) presence, HubSpot clearly needed to streamline the readership experience!
In a blog post that accompanied the redesign, HubSpot’s Pamela Vaughan described the four reasons why they decided to update their blog.
1. Improve content discoverability
While their blog posts received a lot of traffic, their blog homepage received very little. This started the movement towards a new experience for their readers; one where visitors would want to come to the homepage to sift through a variety of new articles rather than relying on external links to read specific posts.
2. Integrate their core blogs and improve usability
During their continued period of growth and after merging with the blog AgencyPost, HubSpot found themselves managing five different blogs, all with a slightly different focus. They were able to consolidate these blogs down to three focuses: marketing, sales, and agency. Now that they had the focus, they wanted a design that displayed this organization to their readers.
3. Better support their goals
HubSpot wanted to grow their blog as a whole, not just to produce some good articles. To do this, they needed to make their web user experience more conducive to exploring and subscribing.
4. Create a better mobile experience
Without doubt, 2014 will be remembered by web designers as the year everyone went mobile. Though we’ve all been surfing the web on our smart phones for years, it took a little while for developers and designers to figure out how to best convert information displayed on a 24 inch computer screen to 3.5 inch phone screen. As more and more of us surf the web on our phones, we’ll give our time to websites that perform best on our devices.
In the past few years, HubSpot has become a leading source of technological and strategic resources for agencies around the world. As such, they needed a blog that reflected their diversified authority.
Arguably, their redesign is defined by the one homepage that displays each of their three blogs: marketing, sales, and agency. Their design displays one image for the featured article in each blog/column. HubSpot also used a simple color for each column to subtly brand each blog. Each column allows the visitor to scroll through a table of recent posts while remaining in the same webpage allowing easy exploration of content.
In terms of both aesthetics and user experience, this is some seriously beautiful design work. HubSpot has managed to successfully use one homepage for three blogs. The use of three side-by-side columns is very a easy and natural configuration for the human eye to sort (see Rule of Thirds). The colors provide a simple way to help the reader to differentiate the various blogs. The feature images employ the very trendy shadow gradient overlaid with white text which is a great space-saving technique when trying to fit three side-by-side images with readable text.
In this redesign, HubSpot has given each of its three blogs a singular header image that is present in every article. These images further help to brand each blog as well as take some pressure off finding a beautiful feature image for every single blog (which can be difficult, trust me). These images are all overlaid with white copy ("Where Marketers Go to Grow" or "Read. Learn. Sell.") that further help to reinforce their branding efforts. These images are, of course, very beautiful but they are also very large and did require some time to load onto the webpage.
While the marketing and agency header images are beautiful, the sales header image could be a bit more interesting. It consists of a man on his computer, lit by harsh lighting, laughing into his headset. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but it does seem there could be a much more appealing way to show off the fascinating world of sales.
You can definitely tell HubSpot wanted to up their number of blog subscribers. In the homepage alone, there are four fields instantly ready to take your email address. In the top right, they have a general subscription field and in each column they have a blog subscription field. While it may seem over the top, I think they were subtle enough that the fields won't distract regular users but will drastically improve their old subscription rate (see image above of their old homepage, there was not a single place to subscribe).
This is the one area that HubSpot could improve the most. In every article, there is a left-side column with recent and featured article suggestions. Though the column is well formatted, when the page is filled with grey text, a box of grey text on the side of screen does not stand out nearly enough to pull my attention.
It's great that they include other suggested articles but this column provides more clutter than use in my opinion. Rather, the suggestions could be moved to end of the article. This would create a cleaner reading experience and allow them more room to make the suggestions more visually appealing.
HubSpot's newest blog redesign perfectly accomplished their goal to maintain three separate blogs in one user experience. Their use of branding to contrast their blogs while using a beautifully designed homepage to tie them together was inspired.
As they become world leaders in both marketing and technology, they are definitely a company you want to be following. The changes they make today are likely to be the changes others will be making a year from today.
HubSpot has created one of the best blogs on the internet today in terms of both design and content, as such, I would highly recommend to anyone involved in sales or marketing. Like HubSpot says, it's the perfect place for your "Daily Dose of Inbound!"
All images were taken directly from HubSpot's website via screenshot with exception of the picture of the old site