I am not a designer.
Throughout my thirteen years of working on the web and related technologies, I have never been able to design a single site that looks good. I can use Photoshop, but really only to make minor manipulations to pictures from my digital camera. I know enough about CSS to be dangerous.
Almost universally, their ideas are better than mine. After all, I know I can’t design.
The Tech Crunch Redesign
The new design is quite a departure from the previous design. Where the old design had the content front and center and used subtle shadings to denote different parts of the layout, the new design uses bright vibrant colors and contains quite a bit more advertising.
And universally the feedback on the redesign has been poor.
Mike Rundle, the lead designer at Business Logs and someone whose work I admire greatly, has this to say in his review of the Tech Crunch redesign:
The previous design of TC was very slick and was a good representation of what “good blog and app design” looks like, or if you want, what “Web 2.0 design” looks like, and it was easy for clients to communicate that to designers. “Hey designer, I really like how TC is rendered and slick, I’d like something like that.” Now, because the new TC doesn’t exhibit any of the previous rendered “Web 2.0” look, it’ll be tougher for designers to pitch a nice 3D-esque layout because they won’t be able to say, “Hey client, check out TechCrunch for an example of what I mean” and immediately be on commonground.
Others are not so kind:
Purely because this is the worst redesign I’€™ve seen since well that dream about Google changing their homepage to a big ugly flash portal. This actually might be worse.
The Real Disconnect
Beyond the obvious face of the design, which personally I don’t believe to be that bad of a design, is the disconnect amongst what I’ll call the “Web 2.0 Community” between content and advertising.
Many would have us believe that blogging is solely about the content, and the ability to earn an income from advertising is always secondary to having the content of a blog be front and center at all times. One only has to think about allegations at various times in the last year of some blog networks using interstitials or popups / popunders and the outrage that those accusations caused.
Much of the feedback about this design was focused on the amount of advertising on the site. At Whitespace, Paul Scrivens takes Arrington to task in a post titled “*uck you, Pay me…”:
I know about monetizing sites and I know there is a fine line between keeping readers happy and making your bank. Actually, scratch that, keeping users happy usually just involves keeping up with your content. Arrington could put 5 more ads on the site and I doubt he would notice a dropoff in traffic.
Tyme White also comments on the amount of advertising inherent in the new design.
Michael Arrington has chosen to monetize the huge amount of traffic that he has coming into Tech Crunch – and I’m not sure that I blame him. He used a great designer – appears to have given her explicit direction in some cases – and made design compromises in order to achieve the balance between content and advertising that he wanted on Tech Crunch.
It might not be the balance of advertising that I would have chosen. But I read his blog via a feed reader anyway…
Other coherent thoughts on the design from Darren Rowse
Matt Craven is the former editor & publisher of The Blog Herald. Currently, Matt is the co-founder of Bryghtpath LLC, a consulting practice located in Woodbury, Minnesota. Matt's presently looking for new blogging gigs. Ping him at matt (at) bryghtpath dot com. You can follow him on Twitter.