ESPN.com gets Organized and Creative with their Redesign

Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
Drew Rattray
| News and views on design vs. functionality balance across the communications and technology space.

ESPN.com gets Organized and Creative with their Redesign

espn-redesign.jpgFirst impression of the redesign...  I like it.  I don't live on the site like some of my colleagues do, but I navigate to ESPN.com at least once a day.  I find that the new, simplified, and tabbed navigation definitely reduces the clutter that engulfed the old design of ESPN.com. The main reason I come to ESPN.com is to stay updated on scores across the sports world, and I love that they placed the scoreboard at the very top of the page, above all advertising and banner ads.

One of the most notable and in-your-face changes is the Main Engagement and Carousel.  It's large, bright, and has a front-and-center location across a majority of the site, providing top editorial picks of sports videos and stories.  They have also added a larger (16x9) and more dynamic video player that is much more prominent than that little dinky thing on the right hand side they used to have.

I think my favorite functionality of this new design is the Personalization Corner.  Once signed in, you can set your preferences to enable or disable auto-run on videos throughout the site, as well as set up personalized tracking for your favorite sports, teams, players, and columnists.  The teams you select will be highlighted in scoreboards throughout the site, and you will have easy access to all information you are tracking under MyHeadlines.  I've already set up my Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Bengals for 2009.

I think that the boldest part of the redesign is the special attention given to advertising.  I hate pre-rolls and ads just like everyone else.  They slow you down, they interrupt your content, they can be annoying most of the time, but THEY ARE NECESSARY.

The main source of income for a site comes from advertising revenue.  A site needs money to run, especially one like ESPN.com that produces an intense amount of editorial and video content HOURLY.  With all the ad blocking software out there, online companies have to take new steps to expose their user base to their client products and offerings.

With this redesign, ESPN.com has taken a new approach to advertising and created unique, very well designed, integrated advertising packages.  These ads are built into the content itself and basically surround you with very untraditional attempts at grabbing your attention.  I don't mind advertising because I know that if I want my favorite sites to bring me the most up to date, detailed, well written, news...  they need to pay someone to do it.  If you can surround the content I want and hit me with ads at the same time, go ahead, just don't make it too difficult for me to get to where I want to go.

Not everyone feels the same way however. MG Siegler a blogger at Venture Beat says "I will not be visiting ESPN.com ever again".  In fact most of the comments left on the ESPN conversation, "Welcome to the new ESPN.com", are very negative.  However, as it is in most cases on internet blogs and conversations...only the complainers seem to speak up.  

It's new, it's bold, it's different, and it's going to be buggy for a little while they work out the kinks (as it is with every redesign). My advice... check it out for yourself.


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