The Montana Free Press is a digital investigative news outlet covering government, social justice, environmental issues and other beats in the Big Sky State.
Investigative journalist John S. Adams founded the Montana Free Press in 2015 and joined INN shortly thereafter. MTFP has been publishing stories on its own site and with partner organizations in Montana since its debut; this summer, INN Labs joined up with MTFP to migrate the site to the Largo framework.
Our goals for the project were to:
- give MTFP a streamlined, modern look and feel
- improve the usability of the site for MTFP editors, media partners, and readers
- create new and better pathways to raise revenue on the site
- engage the public and enhance the stories as valuable public resources
Some of our design inspiration came from INN Members (lookin’ at you, The Marshall Project, Mother Jones, and The Texas Tribune) and some from outside of our industry. We wanted big, bold headlines, a thoughtful type hierarchy, and a clean, modern way to highlight MTFP’s stories — both the latest developments and the long-term investigations.
Here's what John had to say:
“The new MontanaFreePress.org website is a huge upgrade, and major turning point for our growing nonprofit news organization. The INN Labs team took the time to understand exactly what our needs are and helped us design a beautiful and more functional website that improves reader experience and readability and gives us the tools we need to strategically grow our audience.”
Out with the old, in with the new
Since MTFP typically publishes longer, analytical and investigative stories rather than quick-hit spot news, we created a fully custom homepage that emphasized their premium content. This gave us a great opportunity to try a different, clean and modern look for the layout.
Benefits of this custom homepage are big visuals for larger screens and ease of navigation on smaller screens. MTFP editors have room for both curated story choices and the most recently published articles.
A fresh and modern story layout
Article pages continue the sleek, clean design philosophy. We left out intrusive ads and ineffective sidebars in order to prioritize long reads, with easy-to-read text and large, responsively embedded photos and videos. Behind the scenes, our Largo framework adds tools for media organizations that WordPress lacks out of the box, which helps make it easier to keep content organized by author and category.
We didn't do it alone
Continuing with the “fresh new look” theme, MTFP’s designer Clint McFarlin created a new logo package to launch in concert with the new website and provided direction on layouts. We collaborated with Clint to find colors and typefaces that stood out from the crowd and worked well with the new branding, as well as on the overall layout and design of the new site.
Upwards and onwards
We’re excited to have made the Montana Free Press site easier to use while improving the experience for their readers.
Next, we’ll be helping MTFP implement a new donation process as part of NewsMatch.