For the last two or three years, I’ve had Wired.com as my default homepage. I find that I glance through the main articles every time I open a browser window, and that this keeps me essentially up to date with most of the must-know goings-on in tech, net and science news. I never buy the magazine. I’ve cited the site as an example of the very clearest web production, with unobtrusive branding, clearly formatted articles and a good sense of how to write for the web.
None of this is likely to change… but despite their redesign, not because of it. That’s not to say that it’s bad – because it’s not. And when all the errors around the place were fixed (the permanent horizontal scroll-bar on Mac IE 5 that is the consequence of a 100% width div, the frequent SSI errors, the weirdly formatted advertisement tag that you can’t quite tell is intentional or not), then it’ll look classy and will be fairly usable.
But there’s still stuff that seems strange. We’re still stuck with the bloody terralycos bar, which looked roughly out of place on the old design and looks mind numbingly terrible on the new one. There’s major navigation / advertising creep, pushing the content full feet down the page. The colour scheme – ice blue, black, white and lime – screams retro-tech, but it also screams ‘cheap use of the colour-invert feature in Photoshop’. The advert, which has grown inhumanly large, sits really uncomfortably on the page.
And most importantly, the place where they put the actual content seems to have been shrunk and de-emphasised radically – with all the emphasis (and an unnecessary amount of space) dedicated to the fluffier aspects of the site. A more cynical man might connect that change of emphasis with the incredibly limited amount of articles currently on display…