TechCrunch goes for the cluttered look

Dafydd Vaughan on 18 January 2009

Back in August, technology blog TechCrunch updated with a new design, which was slowly but surely rolled out across its network of sites.  At the time I wrote about how much I liked the new design.  It was simple, clean and effective, as well as quick at loading.

More recently, the blog network has taken on another new look.  While the latest redesign has kept a number of elements from August’s look, quite a bit has changed, and not all of it for the better.

The first thing you notice when you visit the new site is the revamped ‘network’ bar that links to all the TechCrunch websites.  Although located in almost the same place as last time, the background has been turned black, making it much more prominent.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and might help convince people to visit other parts of the network.  However, I think the black stands out so much that it draws your eye away from the main content.  It unnecessarily overpowers the rest of the website.

In addition to making the network bar more obvious, the large banner advert has been moved into the space next to the site logo.  This has meant that size of the logo has been reduced to make way for the advert.

The new TechCrunch masthead

The website homepage now includes three promo items along the top of the main content.  While this makes it easy to jump to what the TechCrunch editors rate as important content, the placement of an advert next to the three boxes first made me think the whole bar was one big advert.  After a few visits, I finally realised that it actually showed content, although nothing I couldn’t get from just reading down the page.

Another change to the homepage has been the reduction in width of the article excerpts and provision of a number of tabbed boxes listing active and recent entries.  These boxes used to live beneath the 125×125 pixel advert blocks on the far right hand site.

Overall I think this design is a serious step backwards for the website.  They’ve taken what was a very clean and easy to read design and cluttered it up with adverts.  The more space-efficient top bar including advert and logo now has less white space, but is just crowded.  The promo bar is badly designed, making it seem like one big advert.  The reduced width of the actual content and increased number of adverts on the right hand side just makes the site seem even more cluttered.  I don’t think they could fit any more stuff in if they tried.

Hopefully next time they do a revamp, they’ll go back to the short-lived clean and consistent design across all their sites.

You can see the new design vs old design from the screenshots below. Although the old screenshot comes from a different site on the TechCrunch network, you can still get a good idea of the changes.

TechCrunch Design, New vs Old

Any views stated here are my own and not those of my employer unless otherwise stated.