TechCrunch Redesign

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TechCrunch, the group-edited blog about technology start-ups, launched their redesign today. It’s quite different from the previous design and it’s already drawing a lot of criticism and hate. They redesigned everything, including the logo which is causing quite a stir right now.

TechCrunch Redesign1

Here’s just some of the comments on their redesign.

  • AOL obviously has some bad marketing execs if they switched from the old TC look to this crayola crayon design. This is about as bad as TC adopting FB Commenting over Disqus.
  • I can’t even see the search bar at the top. Am I supposed to guess where it is? GREAT design bro! ALL CAPS ON THAT TOP BAR AND EVERY TITLE FOR NO REASON. And worst of all, everything is in a “sans serif.” Who decided that would be a good idea? there’s a reason books, news papers, and anything with articles is written in serifs.
  • This has to be the worst “redesign” of all time.

What’s interesting about the redesign is that TechCrunch seems to have expected this outrage in the community. They have already published two articles that defend the redesign. One says they chose this logo just to annoy those complainers. And the other one is a straight out challenge to send them a redesign hatemail.

Hate the site? Hate the change?

The fact is that large websites like TechCrunch don’t just redesign without much planning and preparation. Most people are so quick to judge the design without taking the time to even use the site and try it out for a few days.

The reason most people hate the site is not because of the new design, but because they hate change. They were comfortable with seeing the old design and using it so when the site got a drastic redesign, they suddenly became unfamiliar with everything so they automatically said that they hate the new design. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that their website is perfect, I’m sure there are still a ton of bugs that will pop-up over the next few weeks that they will have to address and fix.

But my point is that so many people are already hating the site without knowing the reason and background behind every design decision that was made. They don’t know the data, the analytics, the thoughts, the studies and the tests that went behind this new design.

Do I like it?

Yes, actually. I like the new site. I like how the homepage does not have the carousel up top like most other news sites. These in my opinion just clutter the page if not done correctly. I like the use of whitespace throughout the site. I also like the implementation of the share buttons on the homepage. It attracts my attention enough, but it’s not distracting or annoying Someone mentioned that they should have used a serif typeface. I don’t think so. I think the sans-serif is readable. I use a sans-serif as well on this site and many people have told me that Design Informer is very easy to read. There’s also the large headlines that attract my attention which is good.

Side Note: It’s interesting that a site this large is actually using WordPress. Go WordPress!

The Logo

TechCrunch Logo

One of the things about the site that have people raving is the logo. Most people hate it and say it was made in Microsoft Paint. It’s funny because Dave Feldman, the project manager for the redesign, was able to poke fun at their own logo.

The new logo is our most controversial change. I love it, though that’s no accident: we went through many, many options with Code & Theory before finding one we liked. It’s bold, simple, and versatile. It works in any context — from a tiny monochrome icon to a mosaic on a poster. It fits the TechCrunch brand perfectly. And no, we didn’t build it in Minecraft4. We used AOL Paint, which comes free on the AOL CD and has this sweet UltraLogoMatic2000 feature.

I personally like the new logo. I think it works for their site and their brand. I also like the execution of it. It’s a surprise to see it reveal the words TechCrunch when you scroll down. They didn’t change their colors which is good, because it’s about the only thing connecting this design to the previous one.

What do you think?

The site isn’t without design flaws in my eyes. There are still definitely some areas of the site where I think it can use some refining and tweaking. But overall, the experience was great when browsing the new site.

It was a lot faster than the previous site and I enjoy the new design of it. I don’t know, maybe like I said, it’s too early to tell if I’ll still like this design tomorrow or a few weeks from now.

But what about you? What do you think of the redesign? Do you like it? Do you hate it? What do you think are some things that they did right or wrong? Don’t be shy, leave your comments below. I want to hear from you!

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Former editor in chief of Designinformer.

  1. 1

    I like it too. High five. Of course it has little issues. Easy to find on day-one of a redesign, especially ones with so much dynamic content and ads. I liked their “go on the offensive” technique in presenting it too. Comes off as funny and makes a point.

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  2. 3

    i dont think using all sans is a bad thing for readability. i dont have a link but i rem reading a usability study that suggested serifs helped only for print media, not really for screen. if anything its just not as aesthetic because it lacks contrast.

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    • 4

      You’re right. It’s not bad. It all depends on how you use it (e.g. font-size, line-height, padding, etc.)

      Jakob Nielsen actually wrote this in his book, Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity

      Off-line, headings are commonly set in a sans-serif font, with body text set in serif. However, on-line, sans-serif are often used for both headings and body text; the cleaner outlines of the sans-serif fonts tends to make them easier to read on low resolution screens.

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  3. 5

    I dont know why people have negative review about the redesign.. its pretty cool. actually the top black strip is looking great with the logo

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  4. 7

    I am really interested to see you and Chris Coyier give the design props. Maybe its because I do not read TechCrunch that my opinion is skewed, since I greatly dislike both the logo change and the site design. My opinion is not one from an avid reader of their site who doesn’t like change.

    Its ugly, and poorly executed. The awkward moment when the logo changes and text is cut in half, the way the headers on the sidebar, the tabs below those headers, and the content don’t line up.

    This is an experiment in what people are willing to accept, not in forward looking progressive design.

    Interestingly, the only part I do like, is the article typography.

    I think they accomplished one thing: getting people talking about their site. :) Which of course, is a goal by itself.

    Doug

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    • 8

      I’m not too fond of the sidebar headers either. I am with you on the typography of the articles.

      As far as that awkward moment when the logo changes, if you are scrolling, I don’t think you really even notice the change.

      But you’re definitely right about the social aspect of the redesign. It’s got us talking about their site and it’s all over on Twitter now and there’s a good discussion on it that’s also on Google+.

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  5. 9

    The logo is nice and I like the more modern feel, but I think it’s a big problem that they couldn’t make a site that was both beautiful and user-friendly. Hiding the search field in the black top is just a bad idea. Using all-caps might look good, but this is a site where people come to read a lot – don’t use all-caps.

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    • 10

      I’m with you on the search. Didn’t notice that at first. Just checked it out now and it took me a while to find it and to figure out that I actually had to click on it then I was able to search.

      Especially for a site like that where articles get pushed down so quickly (up to 50 articles per day), search should definitely be very visible and easy to find.

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      • 11

        I fixed some of the stuff: http://cl.ly/8Nwg

        You can get a similar style with Chrome + the extension: “Personalized Web” and the following CSS:

        .headline { font-size: 24px !important; font-family: arial !important; margin-top: 30px !important; letter-spacing: 0.5px !important; line-height: 30px !important; color: #666 !important; }
        .hot-topics-container { margin-top: 30px !important; }
        .content-container * { display: none !important; }
        #header-query { background-color: #eee !important; color: black !important; }
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      • 12

        That’s pretty neat Martin. Thanks for sharing that.

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  6. 13

    I love this logo/redesign!

    Everything blocky is new again. A new generation of tech-geeks loving games like Minecraft (me included) and stepping back towards simpler graphics prefering game-play over nice imagry and rendering. This new style is going to appeal to the youngens.

    It could even be considerd to be a metaphor to the game graphics de-evolution – quality content rather than flashy over rendered site design.

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  7. 15

    honestly I didnt like the logo, the idea is right but overall when you look at it, it doesnt look good..

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  8. 17

    Although I do like it is some strange way, I’d agree with Doug that this is rather an an experiment in what people are willing to accept. It will be interesting to see how it will evolve over time, since there are many issues – tiny or not.

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    • 18

      Interesting that you point that out Janko. I was thinking the same thing. It definitely is receiving a lot of publicity right now so we’ll see how it’s perceived in the next few months.

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  9. 19

    They have changed the design and the logo, but the site is still as slow as it was before… I was hoping the speed would improve with the redesign, but no luck there.

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  10. 21

    it’s okay the new look.. i was very familiar with their old design and it will probably take a while for me to get used to this one… What i like the most is the new logo design!

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  11. 23

    Let’s face it – TechCrunch are Trolling, and they succeeded.

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  12. 26

    As someone who actually detested the Gawker redesigns with such a passion they no longer go to those sites individually and just use RSS instead (bad usability, fact it is non functional without JavaScript, broken for a lot of users following outside links such as me from UK etc) I have to say the TechCrunch redesign is fantastic. The transformation of the top bar as you scroll is genius and something which will catch on as a design trend. I like the fact it is content focused yet has breathing room so is not claustrophobic. I also really like the font choices and sizing overall, there was obviously a lot of thought about this. This redesign also doesn’t hide the fact it is essentially a website born from a new blog centric approach, something which the Gawker redesign chose to pretend they were not ie a web app.

    Also, I like the logo, 8 bit ftw.

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    • 27

      Yeah, I think that the blog format works for them. The only thing I would suggest is have some type of way that you can easily see the last 10-15 posts because they have so much new content that recent posts get pushed down so quickly.

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  13. 28

    It is a brilliant design. Very different and special, telling too fancy looking sites, screw your typical good looking design. I am famous enough to be liked! haha Great job guys

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  14. 30

    I never really visited TechCrunch so I don’t know what the site looked like before. I like this new design. Maybe the logotype is a little bit too much but I like how it just transforms in a top bar. Overall design is cool. :)

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  15. 32

    I’ve rather indifferent to the new design but I do think such a Gawker-style backlash can be avoided. It’s all about iterating and avoiding the need for just drastic change in the first place.

    Wrote more on the idea here:
    http://dbushell.com/2011/07/12/solving-a-problem-like-change/

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  16. 34

    I can’t recall how TC used to look like, as I only occasionally visited it if someone Stumbled something from it. So I guess I can look at it from other side of the user’s who use it daily.

    At first I hated the search functionality and was extremely confused (clicked just about everywhere but the icon) but I feel it’s a nice little modern touch to a search bar. Yes the usability is most likely through the crapper, which is a bad idea for such a huge site; but aside from that, I feel it’s nice haha.

    I agree with you Jad on the logo. Yes it’s “different” which I’m sure is what most people are complaining about. Any big site/brand that suddenly changes their brand and overall look of their site/logo, will get a ton of people complaining about it. Yea it looks like it could have been made in Paint, but so could the IBM and FedEx logos; does anyone complain about those? Simple/minimal sometimes works.

    The page typography reminds me of the Tuts+ sites, which is a good thing. The “share” section on the post pages is a really nice and new way to display social sharing options. The author section is nice as well (collapsed for anyone who doesn’t want to learn more about the author; great idea!!)

    Over all, yea it’s a big change (as far as I can recall) in all aspects of the site, but for someone that doesn’t use the site very often; I like this design.

    Thanks for the article Jad.

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    • 35

      Hey Lee. Yeah, I really like the way they have the social sharing set up. The author section being collapsed is a good idea as well. Thanks for reading the article! :)

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  17. 36

    My take is that they started with good intentions. It’s hard to fault them for doing 1) taking so much garbage out and really putting the content first and 2) using a simple layout.

    However, judging by the way they’re handling the criticisms, it seems like they didn’t stop at those good intentions. They decided to “piss people off”. That’s where it went downhill.

    Let’s dive deeper and get nit-picky shall we?

    1) I agree that the 8-bit / pixelation effect makes sense, for what TechCrunch represents, except as a recurring theme (black bar at the top, sidebar header bgs), it’s just executed poorly. See http://allthingsd.com where the pixelation is a recurring theme (probably not the best example to compare to).

    2) What’s really disastrous for me is the header. Would any of the designers on this comment thread design that header like that? Really?

    3) What’s with the unnecessary search animation?

    4) What’s up with the placement of the “Hot Topics”?

    Everything else is not bad.

    P.S. I’m surprised Jad didn’t include the “before” screenshot.

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    • 37

      Hello Mel, thanks for your opinion on the redesign and for breaking it down as well.

      As far as the screenshot, maybe I should have included the old one. Good point! ;)

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  18. 38

    Okay, as a UI designer do I like the aesthetics? No. But again, I’m not being anal with my decision like others, logo is ugly, do I care? Simply no. I go on TC to be up-to-date with the tech world and as far as I’m concerned, load time is (much) faster than before and I don’t care about rest of it since it’s mainly a read-only site.

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    • 39

      That’s another good point you bring up. I think a lot of times, we designers are too nit-picky when it comes to criticizing other designs. It’s kinda funny because most people on Twitter that said they hate the redesign aren’t even folks who go on and read the blog so it doesn’t really matter what their opinion is, as far as TechCrunch is concerned.

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  19. 40

    I like it too, the new design. It’s minimalistic and geeky :D

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  20. 42

    I’m really having a hard time figuring out why this redesign is better than the last. When click a link to an article here on TechCrunch I want to do one thing… read the article.

    With this new redesign my eyes are moved everywhere on the page BUT the content. Some might consider this “good design” but I find it very annoying and agitating to read… AND… That’s not even the worst part! Say you get used to the design and you train your eyes to find and read the content right away… as soon as you scroll and introduce extra movement on the page your eyes immediately look away from the content and you lose your place. Even the right-side headings are very distracting from what you came to the page to do.

    Here is an experiment: Get someone who has never seen TechCrunch to read an article on the site out loud and see if they stumble on their words every time they scroll.

    The funny thing is I actually think it’s easier on the eyes to read the comments when they are below the right sidebar and the content – give it a try

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    • 43

      That’s an interesting observation. I disagree with that, but maybe it’s just me. The other elements didn’t seem to distract me from the content, but I can see what you are saying with the logo animation. But anyway, thanks for your opinion. It will be interesting to see one of those visual eye-tracking studies to see where users are looking, etc.

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  21. 44

    Update:

    Here’s a great review done by Zurb on the new TechCrunch design.
    TechCrunch Redesign

    Also, here’s another article on TechCrunch. I love the way they show all these negative reviews, and then, come to find out, these were reviews of their previous website.
    TechCrunch Redesign: The Early Reviews

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  22. 45

    Big fan of TechCrunch here, but imo they made some big mistakes.

    Whoever did the wireframes & ux for the site did a good job, but whoever did the layout design wasn’t too graceful. The problem I have is with the colors. Just pure white, pure black and pure rgb(0,255,0) green. The colors mixed with a lot of really big headlines (one on every page is in all-caps also!) w/ small body type makes the contrast on the page real intense. Theres no delicacy in how they handled content.

    Look at this site we are on now, nice subtlety in tones, pretty well crafted, the new TechCrunch doesn’t have much of that, its just in your face pure black or pure white, completely huge 39px type or small 14px type.

    Everything is in the right place, just tone it down a little and show some middle-ground. They probably didn’t because they opted for this nostalgic lo-res vernacular.

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    • 46

      You’re right Kyle. I definitely wouldn’t mind the redesign if the contrast was toned down just a tad bit. By the way, thanks for the comments about this site. I’m glad you like it :)

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  23. 47

    I actually really like it. They’ve obviously taken negative space, grids and baseline grids into account and I’m really happy about that. Nobody can deny that the site is now so much easier to read. The only thing that’s questionable about it is the logo.

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    • 48

      Thanks for the comment Luke. You’re right about the negative space and the grids. It looks like a lot of thought was put into all that.

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