I’m a New Yorker, and obviously, a blogger by trade. Gawker is like my New York Times.
I saw a bit of buzzing last week about Gawker and blogs dying or somesuch, but I must have tuned out, because it was a bit of a shock for me to fire up my morning tabs and discover someone had completely revised Gawker and now it is really, really weird. It’s not just Gawker- Jezebel, io9, Deadspin, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Lifehacker and Engadget have all undergone the same re-jigger to display a jarring one story per page.
It’s early to pass judgement on the makeover, as first off, it’s buggy. Kotaku and io9 both failed to load for me, displaying sidelinks, but no main content. Opening different posts in tabs failed for me as well, changing the main tab you’re clicking links off of to the link just clicked- a major pet peeve for people who read sites by opening every relevant link in a tab and then working backwards to the first tab.
At the risk of sounding like the people who get spasticated when Facebook changes their layout at all, I’m not very sure this redesign is going to catch on very well. For one thing, it makes catching up to a large backlog of posts difficult, and pages seem far slower to load. Ads at least seem to take up more space- an understandable change, if that observation is correct, but I found the placement to interrupt my reading of the content. Even now, as I flip back to the Gawker tab I have open, the sidebar still hasn’t loaded and is spinning despite the several minutes the tab has “working.” (See image above.)
Nick Denton seems to disagree with me, saying of the new design:
“It just feels inevitable,” Denton says. “We have a crying need to showcase both exclusives and visual posts. The visual posts are now at least half of our top-performing stories. And audience growth on sites like Deadspin and Gawker has been driven by our most sensational scoops.”
Ex-Gawker editor Gabriel Snyder didn’t concur, however- even willing to wager against Denton that the redesign was ill-conceived:
“I’m on the record that I think the redesigns will fail. And I’m now officially opening the betting pool. I think Denton is going to be forced to pull back on this. If anyone wants to wager that the redesign don’t get yanked back (or greatly modified) by, let’s say, June 1… I’ll take your bet.”
Do you think the redesign will win over Gawker blogs readers? Do blog readers want more of a magazine format? Skimming Gawker, it kind of reminds me of what I ‘don’t’ miss about magazines- difficulty finding and sorting content, having to skim away from large images in which I have no interest (rather than clicking to enlarge interesting pics), and a more time-consuming overall user experience. What are your thoughts?