AOL Wants a Younger Audience, but Is That Enough?

The former Internet giant is trying to update its image. Could take a while.

Andrew Burton via Getty Images

AOL may seem like a thing of the past, but the once-behemoth still gets millions of clicks every month. Like any website trying to keep up with the times, AOL has given its website a mobile-friendly redesign. The redesign highlights Aol’s most successful recent endeavor: video streaming. The new mobile site is supposed to enhance viewing experience, which AOL hopes will increase its profile among young people.

This represents reasonable thinking, but also AOL’s slow march from the vanguard to the wrong side of the ball.

AOL once was able to dictate the direction of the Internet. Now, they are forced to play catchup. Their 1994 layout (AOL 2.5) shows a young AOL as a portal to everything else.

By 2000, with as a standalone website, the emphasis was on email.

Top Design Magazine

A sleek 2010 redesign included a web search, as well as trendy barely-news stories.

Digital Trends

With little original editorial content, AOL is hoping that its new video-centric design will be popular with a younger audience. The website does offer frequent live-streamed events, but that may not be enough to attract new visitors. Though no longer the standard bearer of Internet progress, AOL’s moves still indicate the ways in which the online world is changing, but just making the site more mobile-friendly does not promise better content. The new redesign is further confirmation that AOL really wants your attention, but is grasping at straws on how to keep it.

Though no longer the standard bearer of Internet progress, AOL does make it special in one regard: It is an incredible resource if you want to know where the exact middle of the mainstream is. There is nothing wrong with that and the company should be lauded for not bombing out Lycos-style, but it isn’t vision either and it probably won’t be enough to convert people who don’t remember using floppy disks.