I’ve chosen Gawker as my least favorite blog, but not because of the content. I find the content to be consistently strong; the design is the main reason I’m not a fan of the site. Gawker recently underwent a very controversial and criticized re-design in February, and its regular readers had a very negative reaction to the change. According to a post in a Reuters blog, traffic and page views for the blog have decreased dramatically since the redesign occurred.
The old Gawker layout was simpler and easier to find content as posts were presented in chronological order; it was also much more friendly to search engines like Google. In the redesign, there are main feature stories with a sidebar that highlights and categorizes other posts. I think a lot of the problem has to do with it being such a dramatic change, as people generally don’t like to adapt to a new system when they believe the old one suited them just fine. But, there was a backlash from readers about the redesign, and there have been several posts from other sources that describe lessons learned from the “redesign atrocity”, what’s wrong with it, and how to fix it.
Obviously, the simplest improvement would be a reversal back to the original design. However, that’s probably highly unlikely as it’s been several months since it originally debuted and there’s been no word to that effect. Also, returning the site to its original glory would be like admitting the redesign was a mistake. Even though everyone on the internet already knows that, no one ever wants to admit that it’s the truth. I think that fixing some of the bugs and kinks that readers experienced with the redesign is a great start, along with taking into consideration some of the regular user reactions and making small changes based on those opinions. If readers feel that their opinions are valued and if the blog continues to improve, hopefully traffic will improve as well.