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Martha Stewart 2.0

Martha Stewart’s company today officially unveiled the latest version of its marthastewart.com website. They are  positioning it as “the most authoritative lifestyle destination on the Internet” and it’s aiming for a market of an estimated 102 million women online. I was immediately curious to look at the new site, because back in July 2005 I did a comparative analysis of marthastewart.com for a consulting client at the time. My conclusion in July 2005 was that marthastewart.com wasn’t a lifestyle website to emulate. My exact words in the report were: “The Martha Stewart site has a very strong offline brand, but the inconsistent navigation and design of the website produces a disappointing online experience.”

Back in 2005, marthastewart.com had few community features – what it did have was in the form of bulletin boards and a Q&A called “Ask Martha”. But it hadn’t yet caught onto the web 2.0 craze. Mind you, few mainstream websites had at that stage. There was also no video or other media on the site in 2005. When it came down to it though, the real problem of the marthastewart.com site circa 2005 was inconsistent navigation and design – no-no’s in any era of the Web.

So what’s changed in 2007? Well I’m happy to say that marthastewart.com has finally fixed up its navigation and design – everything is now consistent, colorful and easy to navigate. Specifically, visitors can now more easily browse marthastewart.com by lifestyle interest (gardening, health, entertaining, etc); as well as search and browse by media property.

Web 2.0 Features

What’s of most interest is what web 2.0 features the site has added. Given that many mainstream websites are now incorporating web 2.0 features, it’s almost becoming a necessity these days. The main 2.0 additions are:

– Much more video; the site now boasts over 700 videos featuring cooking and how-to clips, plus daily episodes of the Martha Stewart Show on a one-day delay along with coverage from her other TV/radio shows. There is also going to be “original video content in development” (I presume made for Web);

Рa blog called Bluelines written by the editors of the company’s newest magazine, Blueprint;

– general community features such as recipe swap functionality and message boards. Plus this fall, a raft of new community and personalization features will be unveiled, “enabling users to save, share, rate, review and collect content from the site, as well as interact with each other through interest groups dedicated to specific lifestyle passions and concerns.”

– a new online game: “Visitors also have the opportunity to share their own ‚ÄúMartha‚Ä? moment and become a part of the Martha Stewart online community by creating a fun and inventive story through the So Martha game at SoMartha.com.”

What’s Next?

The marthastewart.com site aims to continue to evolve this year, with additional releases to “increase personalization and community features; launch advertising microsites; and spotlight original video and image galleries.”

All in all, it’s certainly a good sign that mainstream websites are incorporating all of the community, personalization and multimedia features that Read/WriteWeb has been writing about for the past 4 years or so. It’s no longer just geeky or youth sites implementing these features. This is of course a healthy trend and one we’ll continue to track.

2007 Martha Stewart website

2005 Martha Stewart website

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