A redesign is almost always a painful process. Users are almost never happy initially. Change is tough. When it comes to a website that you visit on a daily basis, users tend to become creatures of habit. This isn’t unlike any other aspect of our daily lives.
When Gawker first announced that there would be a massive redesign, it seemed like an interesting concept. It was a major change from their previous layouts. Gawker decided to do away with the true blog format. That means no longer would the most recent posts be at the top on the main page. I know… blog blasphemy!
If you don’t read any of the Gawker web sites, you can see what I am talking about here. There is even a video that explains how the new design is meant to function.
There is the first issue. If you need a computer science degree tutorial video to show people how to navigate your site, you might be going a bit overboard.
Of course this ties into OWS, via Deadspin which is Gawker’s sports blog.
Deadspin, and all of Gawker, previously under went a major overhaul at the end of 2009.
Can we agree that this design ended up doing OK for Gawker? Under this design, Gawker Media went from a successful multi-million dollar blog to a $60 million media empire.
At first, even that last design was not welcomed with open arms. There is always an adjustment period. However, I am starting to wonder if users will ever make due with the newest Gawker layouts.
I thought I was the only one that found Gawker sites to be nearly unreadable over the last week. Apparently that is far from the case. If we dive into the sites visitor metrics, it appears that many people seem to be having issues with the new look.
Here are the visits and page views for Gawker.com from Sitemeter:
The drop in viewership is so drastic that I actually am not sure it can be accurate. However, the same pattern holds up for Deadspin as well…
That is more than striking. It’s truly shocking. For Deadspin, it looks like an average of about 800,000 hits has eroded to under 100,000 hits. That would be more than a 700% decrease in the span of about 1 week.
If you are making the decisions over at Gawker — what do you do? Can you plow through this by making some small tweaks? Or are they going to actually have to revert back to the old design?
I’m sure the engineering for the new sites cost millions of dollars. And the design looks like it. The Gawker owned sites now look unique. I’m certain that the coding behind the design is impressive. However, Gawker can’t pay their bills with “impressive coding”.
This is a classic flub that businesses make. The engineers present something that is truly innovative in the field of engineering. But, simply because something is “cool” on an engineering scale, doesn’t mean it makes sense for the business as a whole. It would seem that the Gawker executives got caught up in the technology, and forgot what it is they are there to do.
Gawker Media’s business is traffic. That traffic draws in advertisers. According to the table above, that once thriving business has taken a massive hit over the past week.
Even if the design isn’t pulled from the live sites and it ends up working in the long run, this can’t be considered a successful transition. The amount of revenue that Gawker has lost over the past week, according to the Sitemeter graphics, is enormous.
I would kill to be a fly on the wall over at Gawker right now.
On Friday’s, we sometimes stray from commenting on breaking sports news. There are, of course, other things in the world. Duh. These, often masterful thoughts, can be found in the Friday Free For All section of OWS.