Gawker Unveils The Future of Web Design

Google Adsense users will want to pay attention. Gawker and its network of sites are about to undergo a big redesign. The popular gossip blog and its network of sites says it’s all about total branding, not small placements of ads. While the mega-blogs like Gawker can do this type of redesign, many others still have to rely on Adsense. Anyway, I digress.

It was just announced today that Gawker and its network of sites will be getting a pretty snazzy redesign. It’s bringing the focus back to content and less on catching your eye. Check out the future of Gawker at beta.gawker.com (or beta.gizmodo.com)  right now and try their AJAX-powered news scroller-based site. There are still more than a few bugs (the list of articles disappears, the site is slow, ads are not aligned properly, etc.)  but it’s worth checking out.

Here’s a screenshot of a typical Quote-style post on the new Gawker site:

Here’s more about the big design change and the reason behind it from Gawker’s Lifehacker:

Moving Beyond The Blog

The 2011 template represents the most significant change in the Gawker model since the launch of Gizmodo and Gawker in 2002. One could go further: it represents an evolution of the very blog form that has transformed online media over the last eight years. The internet, television and magazines are merging; and the optimal strategy will assemble the best from each medium.

You can already see 2011 layout on the beta versions of Gawker and other titles. The blog scroll, long the central element of the page, is shifted to the right column, still prominent but subordinate; that reverse-chronological listing of the latest stories goes from about two thirds of the active area of the front door down to one third; and only headlines are displayed.

Every inside page will hew to the same template as the front page. No matter whether the visitor keys in the site address or arrives from the side by a link on Facebook or elsewhere, he or she will be greeted not just by a story but by an index of other recent items. This scaled-down but omnipresent “blog” column gives one-click access to the next item, much like the headline pane in a feed reader or Apple’s email app on the iPad.

In place of the original content column: one visually appealing “splash” story, typically built around compelling video or other widescreen imagery and run in full. At its best, a splash will match in visual impact the cover of a magazine or a European tabloid newspaper; and exceed it because the front-page image can actually move.

Outside observers will note that this layout represents some convergence of blog, magazine and television. That’s true in the abstract but it’s more of a description than an argument. Here are the concrete reasons for the evolution of the Gawker template beyond the straightforward blog format.