The sites within the Gawker Media network, sites such as Gizmodo, Kotaku, and my favorite, Lifehacker have all seen a new design take place today. It’s an unconventional design, using modern technologies such as HTML5 to employ a more interactive interface. They claim it is lighter and faster, and they’ve written up a post on how to use the site.
The problem is, I hate it. Apparently I’m not the only one, as the web is abuzz with negative feedback on the redesign. You’d think as a web designer myself, that I’d support it. I’ve done my fair share of trying new, unconventional tricks on websites over the years. Yet I’d do this on my own personal sites, as a way to learn and find new, possibly better ways to present content. For Gawker Media to do this, where money is at stake, is inexcusable.
It’s just a bad business decision to try new ideas and then not test them before making it live. If it were tested with user feedback, I’m sure they would’ve seen the kinds of challenges visitors would face with the new design. Then they would’ve seen it being a bad idea in the end. Unfortunately, it is possible that someone’s ego got in the way of common sense, and usually this person is high up with the kind of power to not care what others think about the idea and the subsequent new design. This is something that needs to be looked at and considered by anyone who is hosting a website or doing any blog hosting. The feedback that you get from your users is very important and can often make or break your website or blog.
Normally I’d just find myself simply not visiting the sites in question. It’d be easier to find alternative websites with similar content and interests and just move on. However, one of my most favorite sites to visit happen to fall under that bad design — Lifehacker. I visit and read the site multiple times daily. I love their content, and make use of many of their tips and tricks to find ways to improve my life and make it more efficient. I’d really hate for this new design to hurt the site in the end, and cause it to fall apart.
As someone else said, perhaps this was inevitable. With the arrival of HTML5, many websites are now going to try to find new ways to present content to readers that, hopefully, benefits both parties; the website owner and the visitors. This had happened with the advent of XHTML and CSS, and we’re likely starting to see it happen with HTML5. It’ll just be a shame for good sites like Lifehacker to end up being a victim of it.