SAY Media launched a redesigned version yesterday of Dogster, its community for dog owners, as well as sister site Catster. Via email, the team gave me more details about their vision and where they go from here.
SAY was created after video ad company VideoEgg acquired blogging platform Six Apart. Dogster was its first acquisition, and since then SAY been redesigning or launching sites as part of a strategy called the Clean Campaign, which emphasizes a clear editorial vision, cleaner design, and premium advertising.
As for how that applies to Dogster, the site’s founder and now general manager Ted Rheingold says the old version focused mostly on reference articles, with “news” coverage that entailed “lots and lots of really cute pictures and videos.” SAY however, proposed that Dogster and Catster find a more distinct voice: “Not just tell the news but share what it means, not say what’s going on, but why we think it’s important, and not try and make everyone happy, but gives all sides to the story.” (Yes, we’re still talking about pet-related content.).
“The strategy is to not win by SEO or bookmarking sites,” Rheingold says. “The strategy is to write the most meaningful, sincere, funny, helpful and whimsical pieces that will be shared, as well as bring new readers and members.”
As examples of Dogster’s new approach, Rheingold pointed to “If the Characters in Downton Abbey Were Portrayed by Canine Actors, What Breeds Would They Be?” and “The Cat Litter Face Mask: It’s a Thing and We’re Trying It!” (plus a few others, but I think you get the idea). The various blogs have also been combined into more general categories like Magazine, Video, and Book Of Dog. And there’s a new weekly video program called The Dog Show. Behind the scenes, Dogster has also switched from WordPress to SAY’s Orion platform.
It sounds like SAY is in the middle of converting sites to the new Clean Campaign vision. President Troy Young says that Remodelista, Serious Eats, Dogster, Catster, Food52, The Kitchn, TechDirt, xoJane, and HonestlyWTF either have Clean designs or are in the process of switching over. Next up are Cupcakes and Cashmere, ReadWriteWeb, and Gear Patrol.