Internet angered by website redesign

asfasfasftc.pngMajor tech blog MineCrunch went live with a long-awaited redesign today. Naturally, the internet is angry and confused. With radical features like black text typeset in Helvetica against a white background, a traditional blog river, bold headlines, faster load times and a fashionable 8-bit style logo, there are .. wait, there's nothing crazy at all! So what on Earth are its readers complaining about?
The new look focuses on readability, removes (most) of the old site's mesh of pointless gridlines, and cleans up its ill-fitting accretion of social networking buttons. Design lead Dave Feldman writes how they set out to take the best of recent makeovers like Gawker's, without making the same mistakes, and the result is exactly what you'd imagine from such a considered and cautious effort: a minimal-but-stylish redesign that looks a bit like Engadget. The only thing emerging from the oven a little soft is an odd scrolling effect, whereby the MineCrunch logo vanishes into a fixed-position navbar at the top as a smaller version emerges. The way the two areas interact is distracting. But the minimal, scrolled-up version of the nav area is an exercise in plain class. The headlines are too big, sure. But that's the tiniest of problems. What the rage--the word "vomit" seems curiously predominant--shows is that people will complain about anything. Similar reactions against other redesigns made some sense. Gawker challenged its readers with a radical app-imitative UI that was frustrating in a web context and pretty much broken out the gate. Our own last major redesign in 2008 added an enormous 'promo carousel' of features that dominated the blog river. Wired's latest looks like someone put 400 pixels of transparent margin on top of the navbar and just forgot to fix it. And so on. Legitimate targets. But most objectors to the new MineCrunch aren't even bothering to explain their distaste for change with actual criticism; it all merges into a sort of defiant mooing noise emanating from the comments section. And the specifics that do emerge often seem particularly unconvincing! For example, someone complained that black text on a white background is unreadable. Venture capitalist and famed typographer Chris Sacca complained that the use of large, bold fonts for headlines makes it look "pimp slapped" and "pearl necklaced." This kind of criticism, you could say, speaks for itself. You may as well complain about the design of a German toaster or the packaging a ream of legal paper came in! Logo does look like a Creeper, though, seriously.


  1. I just want to repeat this line, perhaps applicable to many Fora:

    “…it all merges into a sort of defiant mooing noise emanating from the comments section.”

  2. “. . .people will complain about anything.” I know, right? Plus, there’s this author on Boing Boing, Rob Beschizza, man his stuff sucks.

  3. Major tech blog MineCrunch went live with a long-awaited redesign today

    Clearly someone’s brain was stuck in the Creeper analogy.

  4. It’s a MUCH better redesign than the crappy design the Gawker sites have now. I find I read their stuff a whole lot less because of their redesign. But this one (granted, I never read TechCrunch to begin with) is nice. I actually like the big headlines. It makes it easy to skim and find the articles that interest you.

  5. Wait – Maybe I am missing a joke… Rob – did you mean to say “MineCrunch” as some sort of in-joke or were you asleep at the wheel after a late night of MineCraft?

    Either way is actually fine with me – they both support the fact that you’re a pretty geeky dude.

  6. “Design lead Dave Feldman writes how they set out to take the best of recent makeovers like Gawker’s…”

    I’d like to know what they think are some of the best qualities about Gawker’s makeover.It went from being my favorite tech-blog (pre-redesign) to something that I can’t even stand to interact with more than a few times a week.

    I may have to give this TechCrunch a chance.

    1. The big problem Gawker’s redesign tackled was that the vast majority of blog traffic comes directly to articles, not the home page. Their solution was intriguing because it basically eliminated the difference between article and home. I also appreciate their willingness to experiment with a more app-like experience. Whether you consider those experiments successful or not we all learn from them.

      One other note on this post: the big text on the new TechCrunch is Interstate Bold, not Helvetica.

  7. I think its mostly a reaction to bright green elements and giant headlines. Its a bit unpleasant on first look. My initial reaction was an audible EWWG! Then I actually looked at the damn thing and thought “hey this is pretty good”.

  8. The 8-bit logo and (now) apparent typo “MineCrunch” confused me. I thought it was a Minecraft blog. Someone has Minecraft on the brain(?)

  9. “Major tech blog MineCrunch”

    MineCrunch? Never heard of it. And how curious that their logo is “TC”.

  10. For me it’s a general weariness of the speed at which things are redesigned. Not just websites but everything. There is a class of people for whom this kind of stimulus is a Good Thing, and I am apparently not in that class. The “Cultural Elite” get bored faster and faster and the folks actually doing the redesigns are frequently in the cultural elite and the rest of us have to suffer as as result.

  11. I also didn’t get the MineCruch thing. I was looking for and what not.
    The Jalopnik/Gawker redesign had me up in arms. I stopped reading them practically.

    1. I was also looking for then I Googled “MineCrunch” with no results. Then I came back to BB and looked at the “TC” logo and finally saw the hyperlink under “writes” in the article. Ahh, there we go. IDK looks like a regular ol website to me. A bit boring really. Never visited it prior to today.

  12. This is another candidate for Mad Libs style story templates.
    “Popular website ____ unveiled their new design today…”

    1. You’re right; the headlines are in Interstate.

      On another note, as a web designer I can attest that 90% of feedback to a redesign of a beloved site is negative. It doesn’t matter how awful the old site was, or how much of an improvement has been made. I think it’s primarily a function of the fact that the pissed-off people are much more likely to voice their discontent than the generally gruntled people are to voice their general gruntledness.

  13. Guy’s the whole MineCrunch thing is a joke you’re not getting. The new site looks like the videogame Minecraft. The site is TechCrunch.

  14. MineCrunch = Minecraft + TechCrunch. It’s commentary on how much the new design looks like the game Minecraft. I can’t believe no one else is getting that!

    1. What theawesomerobot said. It’s even in the last paragraph – they think the logo looks like a creeper. Srsly.

  15. I don’t actually go to the TC site more than a couple of times a year, but I just looked at it, and the site appears to be screaming at me.

    It’s not a bad overall design, but those headlines need to be reduced to about half the current font size to be more balanced with the following body text, and so it doesn’t look so busy and “shouting at me”. That may be the “feel” that people are complaining about, even if they don’t understand their reaction to it well enough to explain it properly.

  16. Well, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t find it particularly pretty, but it’s perfectly legible; I’ve certainly read worse. I could do without the 8-bit fashion, however. We had to look at that crap when I was a kid because we had to, not because we chose to.

  17. Popular tech blog that I’ve never heard of and can’t find on Google? Are you sure you didn’t mean ManCru– oh good lord no.

  18. The headlines are a bit big, but not unbearably. And I actually think the logo folding into the navbar is kind of neat. But I’d never been to the site before, so I don’t know what the old design was like. Maybe it would have given me a half and half and made me waffles, but something tells me it was just a website like any other, as is the new one.

    The Gawker redesign was a travesty, though. I tried to stick around because some of the sites have good content, but I just couldn’t do it. I almost never go to any of them any more. io9 once in a while, just because I haven’t really found any other sites that fit that niche. But it’s always a painful visit.

  19. “Major tech blog”? Look, at the point where you have to tell me it’s “major”, it’ most certainly is not.

  20. Didn’t know what MineCrunch was. I assumed it was a Minecraft site. I don’t play MineCraft.

    Now that you guys explained it was TechCrunch, a site I’ve heard of, but never been to, I care even less.

    What I DO care about, or at least am interested in, is user reaction to site redesign in general. They always hate it at first. *I* hate it at first when a site I use regularly has a redesign. But if it’s a good change, the users get over it pretty fast. Until the site does it again. Rinse, repeat.

    Anyway, thanks for clearing up my confusion on what MineCrunch was.

  21. I am so looking forward to BoingBoing’s next site redesign.

    Logo does look like a Creeper, though, seriously.

    If I was reading that site and someone hissed behind me, I think I’d jump out of my chair. Or at least frantically scrabble with the mouse.

  22. If they’re going to complain no matter what, then give them something to complain about. I’m thinking comic sans with a “hotdog stand” color scheme.

  23. MineCrunch? TechCrunch?

    Damn, I thought it said ‘MimeCrunch’ and was getting excited…

  24. That roll-up logo is a neat way of having a big splashy logo that gets the hell out of the way when you’re reading the article: I like it. And I double-like the simplicity: it doesn’t suck on lots of devices. So yeah, defiant mooing.

    In fact defiant mooing is a standard part of any change rolled out to a large audience — “you changed it, it sucks” — and we’re looking forward to managing it here with some new hospital software in a month or two. Ain’t nothing but human, or maybe bovine, nature.

  25. Haven’t seen the TC website before today, there’s a slight chance I may view it again. I’ve always been fond of the logo disappearing act… the logo however is all a bit too camouflage for me. But they at TC like it, so who cares :^)

  26. The whole point of communication is having the recipient actually receive the message intended by the person speaking/writing. Given the rather high number of responses here from people who have no idea what Rob meant by “Mine Crunch” (including myself), I’d say his attempt at communication failed. If you’re going to write an article aimed at a very specific target audience (i.e., very tech-savvy people who are also very adept at playing Mine Craft), you might want to re-think where you’re going to post it.

    In retrospect, I see this article as having had very serious potential for enlightening some of us to interesting blogs we may never have been to before. But, by talking about the blog in an encrypted kind of way, that only a subset of readers understand, is alienating the rest of us. Then, the responses intended to make us feel downright stupid for not getting the connection seal the deal.

    Please, don’t try to make your readers feel stupid. It’s not good for business.

    (And, in case you didn’t find the website Rob was talking about, here’s the link)

    1. Yes, Rob, please make sure you write everything so everyone can understand it. If you do not do this, you have failed as a writer, much like all those other writers who other people don’t understand.

      Personally, I email Randall Munroe every day beseeching him to make his jokes easier for me to understand, but all I get back are stick figures saying “sudo stfu”. What does that even MEAN?

    2. “Please, don’t try to make your readers feel stupid. It’s not good for business.”

      Having the stupid ones leave is a plus if you’re aiming for a quality product, and the comments section are part of the product. I’d prefer Boing Boing didn’t go down the Kotaku route.

    3. “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” – H. L. Mencken

  27. Billy, your paper today was awful, we really expect more from you.

    I’m sorry that I can’t even think of giving you a gold star, but we’ll give you the sad pony sticker instead for effort.

  28. Look, no comment on whether the play on words was funny or intentional, I did find it confusing. I did google this thinking I had somehow missed a “major tech blog” when I follow this stuff every day, but when I read the comments and saw it probably an intentional word switch, I had to laugh. What did I give a damn that I was missing something?

  29. Regarding site redesigns, both boingboing and slashdot (and others I’m sure) introduce redesigns gradually. This tends to be a lot better for everyone involved, and people generally don’t revolt over it.

    On slashdot of course their latest incarnation is very beta (or alpha) quality so a lot of people complain about it, because it’s ridiculously buggy. But like boingboing it gradually improves, including the visual design. Both sites looks vastly different right now than they did just a few years ago, but it’s been a gradual and sensible evolution rather than punctuated equilibrium (look it up) like with TechCrunch and Gawker and so on.

  30. BB’s next redesign is percolating right now. The vague consensus seems to be toward even more minimalism — layout that gets out of the way to allow creative work to stand out. Less junk in sidebar, lose the high-contrast header area in favor of pure white page, a simpler color scheme. Serif fonts, perhaps!

  31. “Please, don’t try to make your readers feel stupid. It’s not good for business.”

    I was going to just say that I’m not troubled by the failure to communicate the comparison’s meaning to the (substantial) proportion of our audience that is not familiar with both MineCraft and TechCrunch, and perhaps hint (politely) at the inherently exclusionary and elitist nature of in-jokes, but I fear it would not help.

    Instead, imagine a smug, ginger-haired nerd smirking at your inability to understand abstruse subcultural references that would mark you as hopelessly dorky if you even came close to getting them.

    It won’t make it any less annoying, but it will save you the wasted effort of explaining to me what I’m doing wrong.

  32. Mine Crunch was a manifesto written by the Cap’n Crunch Adams in 1924 justifying his colonial expansion into the territories of the Soggies.

    Unfortunately, its publication suffered many delays because of a perceived spelling error in the author’s name. The tome was forever overshadowed by a similar title successfully published in 1925.

    And that’s how we associate format updates with Hitler.

  33. I haven’t been to that site but I can tell you I am mighty tired of something new all the time. I want something familiar for a change.

  34. The Gawker redesign fiasco is what led me to Boing Boing in the first place. For me it was the only good thing to come from that train wreck.

  35. Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to think that if you’re writing an article about another web site you should provide a link to that site for the benefit of your readers. Especially if you’re going to muck up the name of the site.

    1. There is a link to TechCrunch in the post, one of two. The other leads to certain death.

  36. Actually, I can’t remember a single BB redesign that I thought improved the site. Some were great lurches in the wrong direction. Well, at least the current one has done away with the reverse headlines over screens atop images, so it’s a step back from the brink in that respect.

    The guidelines for redesign that Rob mentioned are promising. Fingers crossed that some designer won’t decide that “simple” means orange plaid cut-out text on an 8-bit pixelated repeating background.

  37. First Kotaku now TechCrunch, when will people understand a good redesign is to take away junk and make the website perform better and faster.
    Not lock up the browser when a tab loads.

  38. Wouldn’t it be nice if content and design elements were separated, so that the user could be free to pick a layout and colour scheme he or she prefers? It’s ludicrous how many websites become unusable when you do something as simple as forcing a colour scheme, and how much difficulty is added to webscraping by the embedding of markup into content.

    The XML/CSS union was intended to fix these things, but it was a half-assed attempt to begin with and isn’t used that way anyhow; instead, CSS is simply used to make it seem like web designers have a vast quantity of esoteric knowledge.

    I prefer a dark background, a light foreground, and a monospace font. I don’t see what benefit Facebook, G+, Wikipedia, and Reddit get from designing their UI elements in such a way that using such a colour scheme requires rewriting half their generated HTML and replacing their icons.

  39. XD

    Amusing article *tears up*

    To be serious for a moment, my first thought was April Fool’s Joke, my second thought was: its to be expected. Techcrunch’s new site is…ok. I think the logo thing is nifty, not the most amazing site in the world, but eh. I don’t think Techcrunch is going for “hip” anymore, which is fine. Let the design age with the staff? Still probably has good articles.

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