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Friday, August 25, 2006

TechCrunch getting yet another redesign

TechCrunch is getting yet another redesign (see note at the bottom of the story). The new design will the one already used on CrunchGear and the new TechCrunch UK, produced by Thissideup, UK design firm.

This is the redesign that has been on the cards as soon as the last make-over was completed. Jeremy Baines (the man behind Thissideup) e-mailed Arrington with some notes, which Arrington then crassly said he would use. This rather under-mined TechCrunch's then contracted designer, Rachel Cuncliffe, who promptly resigned. Michael - rightfully - received a lot stick over his behaviour.

So it's not suprising that Baines has now redesigned all the Crunch offerings. Only problem is, the new designs aren't very good.

The Cuncliffe design features a neat and highly useable menu bar across the top of the page containing all the links you really need (and, equally-importantly, no more). It also contains a neat subscribe-by-email box, and a Feedburner circulation chicklet. This leaves lots of room for the panel of Federated Media adverts straight underneath, next to the main content.

The new design, however, junks all this. The menu bar is still there but has only three links, leaving the rest of the bar (which still reaches across the whole site) as wasted empty space. The About, e-mail subscribe and RSS subscribe links are instead replaced with large clunky boxes in the right-hand side bar (where the FM ads used to be). Advertising is instead restricted to a narrow column of Google Ads, noisly sandwhiched between main content and the info boxes.

The main criticism of Rachel's design was the strong green colour. As I said when I wrote about the May redesign, it may have been "in your face" but it was certainly memorable, which is what you want! It seems that Arrington is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as the new design is much inferior in terms of useability and user experience.

Furthermore, I've already come across a lot of Cuncliffe's and Baines's work "in the wild", and I must say I've universally preferred sites designed by Cuncliffe.

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