I’d like to bring to attention what ESPN has done with its website with a recent redesign.
Being a big sports fan, I’ve frequented ESPN.com for the more than 15 years. And every time there’s a redesign (the last big one happened in 2009), I balk because it’s not what I’m used to.
This recent redesign triggered the same feelings, but they were short-lived. The new Twitterfied site looks very busy but there’s a controlled madness I’ve come to appreciate.
What ESPN is doing — more than any other mainstream sports website — is customizing the experience for the user. When I sign in it knows the teams I follow and puts their news and results on the left. The right bar is for what’s happening now; there’s an emphasis on social bursts. The top headlines people have come to expect are now in the middle of the page under an often-changing centerpiece.
The website makes sense because it feeds into the habits of its users, who are now using tablets and smart phones. Research shows that fewer people are accessing the home page. Instead, traffic is coming from referrals — be it web searches or social. ESPN isn’t treating it’s homepage like the front page of a newspaper (which would be an example of accepting print’s limitations for web) but instead highlighting the NOW. This is a smart move considering the ways sports consumers get their news.
The endless scroll is a bit divisive — at least among some of my friends — but it plays off of ESPN’s main theme here: There’s no start or end to the news; it’s instead a continual flow of information.