Leading social media blog Mashable has received a large overhaul, complete with new look and new features.
Pete Cashmore has all the details here, but the notable part aside from aesthetics sees Mashable adopt what I'm calling the half-magazine format where full posts don't appear on the front page, only teasers, a layout that is growing in popularity at the moment.
Blog layout has long been stuck in a format that sees recent posts listed in full on the front page. It's a standard format many are comfortable with, and yet as blogs have become mainstream, to date the layout hasn't changed with the times.
When I launched The Inquisitr, we started with a nearly full magazine layout on the front page, and as much as it had mixed reactions, and I've been careful to offer a traditional blog experience on sub pages (for example, if you browse by category, you get a traditional blog layout), it has worked well for us, both as a front page statement of who we are, and as a point of differentiation.
The shift though to a half-magazine layout, one that still sees blog posts listed down the page, but not in full, is an interesting move in terms of what it is trying to achieve. Unlike The Inquisitr, Mashable has more of a hook for their front page content, tempting people to click thru to read more. The cynical side of me says that it's a strategy to increase page views, and I have no doubt that on some sites, that's the sole motivation. And yet Mashable has another driving issue that this layout seeks to address: bloat. The front page of Mashable has always been huge, and often slow to load in full. The new version is still big (2mb by my count) but it's quicker, more streamlined, and therefore offers more prompt page delivery.
Pete wants feedback on the new design. My thoughts: rocks, just. Very white, a little unstructured and messy (sidebar in particular) but given how much Mashable is offering, not surprising. Nice feel to it, easy to read. One observation: most ads are buried below the fold, which is an interesting move. I'd have put the 125px spots higher. Also, it would appear that the inline Kontera style ads are gone. If this is the case, kudos on dropping them.
On the overall space, I simply ask: are we seeing the end of standard blog design? The biggest blogs in the land no longer embrace a traditional format, and other sites are sure to follow. The traditionalist in me feels a little sad, but it's a positive step forward in the maturity of the space.
Disclosure: I occasionally contribute posts on Australian startups at Mashable, although I have no financial arrangement with the company