Savage Lovecast

Savage Lovecast

  • Client: The Stranger
  • Platform: Responsive Web
  • Services: Strategy, Design, Development

Leading sex columnist Dan Savage has a new platform to support his bulging…advice content.

Index Newspapers, home to alt-weekly The Stranger, has seen years of success with leading sex columnist Dan Savage’s podcast, The Savage Lovecast. After all those years, it was time for a refresh, both of the overall look & feel of the site and under the hood. Substantial accomplished both in one short stint, positioning the Savage Lovecast as a premier podcast for years to come.


Envisioned as a way to provide paid love and sex advice from columnist Dan Savage, The Savage Lovecast added a premium podcast in 2013 that would appeal to his most devoted fans. After several years of success, the original web application was due for an update, both aesthetically and technically.

Index Newspapers reached out to Substantial to help push the application design forward, focusing on increasing engagement. The new Savage Lovecast design remains uncluttered, surfacing older content and the new iconography adds humor and visual interest throughout the app. These remind users of the bevy of content available and encourage new subscriptions. Under the hood, the revamped Savage Lovecast application integrates a new payment provider, managing the switchover for current subscribers and consolidating Index Newspapers onto one preferred vendor throughout their business.

The newest version of The Savage Lovecast launched in summer 2017.

Savage Lovecast Illustrations
“As always, it was a pleasure working with Substantial on this project. From the initial discussions all the way to launch, they were organized, clear, responsive, and of course extremely talented. The updates and upgrades have made it easier for our staff to manage the business and given our customers a great new experience on the web site. Thank you!”
‐ Anthony Hecht, CTO, The Stranger

Substantial built the initial version of the Savage Lovecast app and had done a few rounds of upkeep, so we already were familiar with the product and client, Index Newspapers. This helped make it easy for the team to quickly understand, dig in to the goals for this body of work including shifting payment onto the provider Index Newspaper uses for other products, and push the site design forward.

One of the key differentiators of the Savage Lovecast is that each episode is released in two versions, micro, which is free, and magnum, which is longer and ad-free. This required creating personalized podcast feeds to manage subscriber access, which is auto-renewed. Switching payment providers meant finding a solution that wouldn’t disrupt current subscribers. Coordination issues between old and new providers eventually led us to create a logic layer that treated old subscribers differently than new ones, knowing that they’ll be migrated to the new provider as credit cards expire.

Savage Lovecast Magnum Animation

As that work was underway, the design team worked on a facelift for the web application. Dan Savage is known for his cheeky (and sometimes profane) sense of humor, and the new design moved in a similar direction. The team explored a variety of design directions with the Savage Love team, wanting to push the envelope while remaining inclusive and (mostly) safe-for-work. The resulting playful, custom animations, iconography, and copy brings new life to the web experience, which better surfaces recent and archived episodes, and presents promotional opportunities for related events.

Savage Lovecast Home Page Evolution
8 Weeks from concept to launch
500+ Episodes and counting