With so much content available to us online, how on earth are we meant to decide what is worth consuming?
The Pool, a multi-media online magazine for ‘busy women’, wants to provide us with the answers.
Set up by magazine editor Sam Baker and broadcaster Lauren Laverne, it’s been busy making waves in the world of online publishing. Since signing a content deal with DigitasLBi towards the end of last year, it’s grown in size and substance.
Like Emerald Street, it’s become one of my go-to resources for informative, engaging, fun and intelligent content.
Here are four reasons I think it’s worth a look.
The original idea for The Pool was borne out of the notion that many women are ‘too busy to browse’.
So, instead of spending time searching for content, the site adapts the broadcast model and delivers relevant articles, with the theme and length tailored to a specific time of day.
Labelling each article with the amount of minutes it takes to read, there is a clear focus on time efficiency.
For example, a “Today I’m Channelling” quote at 7:30am might take thirty seconds, while a “Lunchtime drop” would take four minutes.
This transparency reflects The Pool’s wider philosophy – something that’s lacking in many other women’s publications. Namely, a focus on reader context.
While a magazine might think about who its reader is (i.e. their age, interests, ideas) it’s very rare to consider the contextual circumstances, i.e. where and how they might be accessing it.
Whether rushed at work or enjoying a leisurely commute, The Pool recognises that ‘time is precious’.
Designing content to fit in with our lives (rather than the reader finding ways to cram it in) is a refreshing concept.
As well as cleverly highlighting its timed formula, The Pool’s design is pleasingly minimal and deliberately non-fussy.
From Cosmo to Jezebel, many online websites are jam-packed full of articles, each with a headline that’s deliberately designed to get readers to click.
Personally, I find it all a bit exhausting.
In contrast, The Pool’s blue and monochrome colour-scheme and neatly stacked design means that articles don’t scream out at you in the same way.
And yet, it grabs the reader’s attention far more effectively, drawing on the quality of the content itself rather than the shock-factor.
Whether you are browsing on the homepage or via a specific categories, the headlines are subtle and engaging.
The popularity of podcasts like This American Life and Philosophy Bites have shown us that people love quality audio content.
Whether standalone or made to accompany an article, The Pool utilises this medium effectively with its dedicated SoundCloud account.
Likewise, The Pool’s YouTube channel is well-produced.
With ongoing series’ like “Women We Love” and “Ten Minutes with…” – it combines casual behind-the-scenes insight with a more polished feel.
Although The Pool gets revenue from native advertising and brand tie-ins, it’s content (and specifically video) manages to balance brand and independent voices well.
Instead of in-your-face banner ads, the main site uses native advertising to bring something of value to the reader, rather than pushing products for the sake of it.
Personalisation and extra touches
As well as signing up to the daily email, registering an account with The Pool means that users are able to create a personalised scrapbook of articles.
For instance, this is particularly helpful is you are a fan of the Food and Home section.
By clicking the scissors icon on an article, recipes or product recommendations can be easily saved and referred back to at a later date.
Similarly, the social sharing buttons (located at the bottom and top right of each article) are user friendly and effectively make use of oft-forgotten platforms like LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Granted, they probably see less use, but it nicely highlights the site’s presence on all social media channels.
A website that fits in to the daily habits of its users, The Pool takes an innovative concept and backs it up with quality content.
With intelligent voices, sleek design and multichannel presence – there’s a lot to learn from this less-is-more approach.