Some New Redesigns

Ars Technica launched a new design today, with a much-needed change to their color scheme. Black text on a light gray background is infinitely more readable than the old white-on-black migraine-inducing site they’ve had for years. Previously, the only way I could stand to read their content was by highlighting the text (which inverted the colors to black-on-gray) or to follow the “discussion” link to read the article reposted in the forums. Don’t have to do that any more, so now I may be more inclined to read Ars on a daily basis. They’ve also included some handy widgets to change the typeface, font size, and yes, to even switch back to white-on-black if you prefer. There’s also a widget which switches the layout to a slightly wider semi-fluid design, but the usefulness of that seems negligible. They’ve included a nice writeup on the redesign, discussing their strategy and outlining the features. Overall a very nice and attractive update.

SpamCop also launched a new design yesterday, which comes on the heels of a standards-based overhaul a few months back. The latest version has further simplified what was already a pretty bare-bones site, centered on nitty-gritty functionality over excessive style. The left navigation has been converted to a series of tabs across the top of the page, and a text-size widget has been added there as well. The new SpamCop is more usable and pleasant to be around, looking less like a command-line application and more like a real website. I like it.

Both of these sites have eliminated their left-side navigation menus. Could this be a conscious effort to get away from the whole “everything looks like a blog” trend? Are left-side menus on their way out? And when the hell is Slashdot going to redesign?


  1. Sorry, folks, but the hardcore geeks are avacuating Ars. After 6 long years of daily devotion to the one site on the ‘net that understood late-night surfing (dark, dark, dark!), they’ve gone conventional. And no, the toggle for switching back to a black background doesn’t help: It’s actually a medium gray, with bright read banners, and multi-colored ads right in the middle of the screen. If I wanted to read AOL, I would’ve signed up.

  2. The hardcore geeks are NOT vacating Ars. In fact, most of us *love* the redesign. The alternate color scheme is more than dark enough for myself and others, and there is a simple CSS hack that anyone can use if its not enough for them.

    There is a very vocal minority, probably about half a dozen users, who are running their mouths like crazy. Thats about it. Everyone else is posting positive feedback to help them do the inevitable tweaks(some they have already done, like adding discussion links on the main page.

    All in all one of the best redesigns I have seen in years.

  3. There will always be a vocal minority of devotees who hate to see change of any sort, even when it’s clearly for the better. Those people who are petty enough to abandon Ars simply because the new design violates some sense of blind tradition are probably not the sort of clientele Ars should try to please. For the rest of us, we who actually appreciate the consistently insightful and informative content, the new design is frosting. Attractive, clean, usable frosting.

  4. And what jute_boy also fails to realize is that with a few lines of user CSS in your browser, you can change the dark grey to black again.

  5. Craig: Exactly. You can never appease everyone, but for me, content is king. There are some really poorly designed websites out there that I still frequent due to the content. Ars could look like some ZDNet clone and I’d probably still go there, athough I might complain about the design a bit. ;)

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