Welcome to Apartment Therapy 3.0!

Dear Readers,

This is a super exciting day for all of us here at the office and beyond where a bunch of us work from home. We're all sitting behind our computers madly typing away on the blog, IM, Facebook and Twitter as the traffic ramps up, and we deal with tech issues, fan mail and questions that come with the territory of such a big change on a Monday morning.

We've been working on this redesign for at least two years, and I want to explain a little bit of the thinking behind what you see here.

RIP OHDEEDOH ET AL..

The biggest change concerns the combining of our four design sites under the Apartment Therapy banner. While no one will miss Ohdeedoh (Ursula's first words), Unplggd and Re-Nest more than me, it has become clear over the past few years that these sites have a tremendous amount of overlap in audience and content and that trying to grow five separate brands is really difficult. With most of our traffic coming in through the Apartment Therapy URL, it also seemed like such a waste not to be able to more easily show off all the great posts on the other three sites.

So we put them together to make one really big, home design super site and one fabulous food site that's quickly becoming really big too.

Now it's simple. We're all about DESIGN and FOOD.

But we haven't lost anything or "folded" anything in in the typical way. By creating channels around each site and then adding new, much wanted ones, I think we're now able to showcase all our best material in one place in a way we haven't been able to do before. Our editors will still be building their channels each day in the same way they built the separate blogs, only you won't have to go anywhere to see it all. It's going to be one stop shopping.

PUTTING THE PORN BACK IN

The biggest, funnest change came when I realized that we needed to look at fashion websites, not design sites, in order to properly LOVE our photographs and own up to the fact that what we do is VISUAL and photo driven. By stripping away all the visual clutter on the front page, increasing the white space and moving the ads to the right side, we're now able to really push the PORN in Shelter Porn. We're going to keep going. We're working on improving all of our photo and editing skills and want to eventually make the images even bigger. Sometimes the best ideas come from unlikely places.

MAIN IS NOT EVERYTHING

While the "main page" may be where you go first, not all our content will reach it, so you must be sure to check the channels that interest you the most. "Main" will showcase our hottest home design content, while the more niche-y stuff and hardcore posts will live in their channels - unless they get super hot, in which case we'll push them out to main.

MORE CITIES ARE COMING

Our city launch project stalled a few years ago as we were technically unable to add new cities. With the new design we'll be adding cities every few months and build out our presence in Europe, Australia, Canada and beyond. I love our local coverage and can't wait to be able to showcase this properly!

A NEW REAR END

Finally, what's really been taking so long and going on behind the scenes is a whole new back end and platform on which to post and move all our content around. All of this work has been like plumbing - not glamorous and slow going - but it's absolutely essential as we're getting scarily close to 10m monthly uniques between our two sites and needing badly to upgrade our community and marketplace features into the blogs.

There are many details, but those are the main reasons we made the changes you see here. We'll be working hard to iron out all the wrinkles and then start the fun part - adding new features for you all to play with. For all of you new readers, as well as you die hards who have been with us since 2004, THANKS SO MUCH for being here today and continuing on this crazy journey into 2012.

I had no idea in 2004 that I would be doing this full time with a talented team of 18 full time folks and getting to write and converse with all of you every day. It's a dream come true.

xo

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.