Darren at Problogger unleashed a new design today that is quite the departure from the previous design. You can still see the old design at the Wayback machine. Sometimes you need to make drastic changes to move forward. The new design is clean and looks much better than the previous. Let’s take a look at it.
You’ll have to click on it to get it bigger, but I didn’t want to shrink it down and risk some of it being distorted. The first thing you’ll notice is a nice new logo that is much, much better than the Atari-eske logo he had before. Another thing that I liked immediately is the featured post at the top of the content area. Great placement and it brings your eye directly to the latest post. The addition of the video at the center gives the site a great anchor. And the ads on the right are clean and don’t detract from the design. Also notice the prominent placement of the subscribe section to the top right of the content.
One thing I also noticed right away is the downplay of the other posts. If they were a little narrower, they would almost look like a Google Adsense skyscraper. Given that the left column is the “Hot” spot for Adsense skyscrapers, I’m not so sure that a narrow columnar listing of posts was a good design choice. I have to admit that I am sometimes a little ad-blind and couldn’t find the posts for a minute or so upon first viewing the site. Of course, I read Darren almost exclusively through RSS so that doesn’t bother me much, but for onsite readers and new readers, it could prove troublesome.
There are several subtle changes that I really like. The first is the “Best of Problogger” section directly below the video. It’s a great little widget that has several categories of the best problogger posts. It’s a great way to showcase some of the greatest resources from problogger.net. Another great addition that is very subtle, but makes a lot of sense when you notice it. All of Darren’s comments/replies in the comment threads have a different background color. This is a great way to offset them from other comments and also to make it easy to skip ahead and see if he’s replied to your comment.
One design element that Darren added is a footer. Rather than having a bunch of links to categories and other sites, they’ve been moved down to the footer. It’s out of the way and most of all, it isn’t hogging up the header space like in the previous design. Of course, all that information is now buried so it will be interesting to see if Darren’s referral revenue goes down because of it. I don’t see any problem with having the categories in the footer as they are there for extreme navigation (when you just wanna browse) any ways. The bit with his picture (from 2005?) got dropped down there as well, but since most people will put that into an about page, it’s kinda nice to still have on the front page.
As far as results go, I’d like to see a comparison between the stats from before and after to see if it has increased onsite readership or not. I’d also like to know if it harmed the referral revenue of the site by dropping them into the footer.
Overall, I think that the design is a great step forward for Darren and the problogger community. It’s much cleaner and easier on the eyes. With the exception of the possible issue with the posts on the left, I think that the usability of the site has gone up dramatically and it seems set for movement into the future.