Top 5 Improvements of ESPN.com Redesign
The new site is aimed at simplifying a visitor's experience by reducing the amount of clutter on the homepage. The goal is to encourage visitors to delve deeper into the site and view more pages. ESPN was concerned that the overflow of information on the old homepage led people to bounce off and not necessarily delve into the site.
The new beta site feels like a definite improvement over the previous version. Here are the 5 best things that ESPN did differently.
- Removed Automatic Playing Video - On the old site, a video of highlights in the top right would start automatically playing upon your arrival to the site - this was counter-internet. We use the internet to seek information, not have information pushed on us like television does. The video that played was not one that a visitor was likely to be looking for. Instead it stole attention from looking for the information actually desired. Also, even though it was a minor graphical element of the design in the top right corner, by playing media, it stole attention from the most important news highlighted in the middle of the page.
- Personalization of Information - Immediately available on the new site is an option for "My Headlines." This feature allows visitors to personalize the information they see, making it much easier to get the news they find important. By making this a prominent feature of the homepage, it entices visitors to click through to more interior pages and spend more time on the site.
- Simpler Navigation - The new site has streamlined the main navigation by hiding the inactive sports. The previous site had 36 links on the top block of the homepage; that number has now been reduced to 19, and the links have been cleaned up to better fit the design. It makes it easier to find and click on the news that a visitor cares the most about.
- Larger Feature Video - The new video is 16x9 and displayed as a central part of the homepage; this is key. It allows ESPN to editorialize on what is important (which is their purpose) and takes advantage of their audience's faster computers. They have traditionally been a leader in web technology and also led the way in the migration to compliant browsers.
- Cleaner Homepage Layout - Underneath the main video player and headlines, the new site has 3 more main columns and rows of information/ads. The sections are all lined up nicely and each content area in a given row is the same size. This makes it much easier to scan the homepage and find information than it was on the old site. Previously, the homepage was full of content boxes that varied in size and didn't line up to adjacent boxes, making it very hard for the eye to read over the page.
Overall, ESPN did a really great job with the redesign. Currently, the site is a traffic hub that captures nearly 50 percent of total minutes spent by Internet users watching sports video and the seventh most total video streams, according to Nielsen Video Census. So, you can be sure that other media companies will be taking close notes of the design and eagerly awaiting ESPN to report the new traffic data from the redesign.
In addition to improving the user experience on the site, there is also a more corporate goal - the new design gives advertisers eight options to purchase ads on the most popular pages rather than the three that the old site had. This increase in ads was one of the motivating factors for the redesign, as the NY Times points out that Disney, ESPN's parent company, was disappointed in soft ad sales by the channel in the most recent quarter. However, it seems that ESPN did not sacrifice tact for revenue, as the new ad placements are not distracting, and they even eliminated the distracting banner ad up top.