Rider: Deniz Cinek / Photo: Howzee
Summers working in snowboard media are always weird – flicking through mountainous photos and writing about colder climes while the rest of the world posts instagrams from the beach. Buried in your own personal permafrost.
This year was stranger than most, however. Following the decision by our parent company Factory Media to cease publishing print mags and concentrate instead on digital development, the annual routine of planning half a dozen monthly magazines and gearing up for the first of the regular deadlines has been replaced by stoking that furnace known as the internet on a daily basis. (Incidentally, with a new Star Wars on the horizon, our own nickname for the web – Sarlacc – seems more apt than ever; it demands regular sacrifice and cares not if your content is as cool as Boba Fett – all offerings are swallowed in seconds.)
"A lot of you were disappointed when we broke the news of the end of WL in print, and make no mistake – so were we"
A lot of you were disappointed when we broke the news of the end of WL in print, and make no mistake – so were we. Speaking personally, I poured 10 years of my life into the business of paper and ink. At the same time, being at the sharp end of the media game means we could see the cold, hard numbers better than anyone: print is becoming an older, niche market, and our online audience – which takes in riders of all ages – is exploding. In that context, it was hard to fight the logic that we should focus our time on the latter.
But we have been listening. Though the casual visitor to WL.com might think we’ve been treading water over the summer, under the surface we’ve been paddling like the proverbial lanky bird.
First up, the editorial team and senior photographers have been chasing down the best stories much as we always have, ready to drop them over this coming season. Second, under the watchful eye of our Deputy Editor, Duthie, we’ve compiled the most in-depth buyer’s guide in our history – including proper, lengthy reviews of over a hundred snowboards, each one tested in the mountains by our hand-picked crew of experts. Some 120,000 people now visit our product pages each month and I’m confident that you won’t find a better gear resource anywhere, be it paper or pixels.
"The new website is cleaner to look at and simpler to use – have a dig about and let us know what you think"
Lastly – and it’s a biggie – site design. The technical bods at WLHQ have been working flat out to launch a huge update to the website which you can now see in front of you. It is cleaner to look at and simpler to use, with less advertising clutter in the margins, full-width images that really pop and way less need to click when navigating. Take a look at this recent piece from Ed Leigh about his trip to Alaska with Xavier De Le Rue for a good example of how the new format can look. Meanwhile, so-called ‘list articles’ (like our 2015/16 boot rundown) are no longer presented as a series of bite-size pages but one easy scroll. There are other little tweaks that you’ll come to notice in time, and a second upgrade is already in the pipeline, but all in all it is now a much better user experience, especially on mobile. Have a dig about and let us know what you think – like I say, we’re listening.
When it comes to some of your existing requests, our hands are unfortunately tied. Will you sometimes see the same story twice in your FB feed? Occasionally, yes – we have to post more than once to reach an audience that spans time zones, and we’re not in total control of what FB decides to put in front of you. Will every single piece of content we publish be exclusive to WL, like the mag? No – this is the YouTube age and there’s a hell of a lot of rad stuff out there for us to share, plus Sarlacc needs feeding hourly, not monthly.
But I can promise you this: all the things you enjoyed in the magazine – travel stories, opinion pieces, how tos and so on – will be a big part of the mix, as well as regular unique videos of our own.
Thanks for sticking with us, and here’s hoping El Niño brings the goods…
Interested in contributing to Whitelines?
We’re always happy to receive photo, video and writing submissions. Full details of what to send and where to send it can be found here.