Jalopnik’s Cruel April Fools Joke

Autoblognik

Today is a April Fools – and the joke played by Jalopnik “Say Hello to Autoblognik and Goodbye to Me” struck a chord with me. It’s actually a decent premise for an April Fools joke – they claim they were acquired by Aol. (who has been on an acquisition binge of mainstream blogs) and that Aol. was going to re-do the site. The problem with this joke is that many formerly loyal readers of Jalopnik like myself would LOVE for this to happen.

Jalopnik used to be my favorite blog on the internet. I’d visit it 4-5 times a day, chat with my car buddies about it (“did you see that post on Jalopnik today? OMG it was awesome…”), and I was generally what you could call a Jalopnik fan-boy.

When the redesign of all Gawker Media sites launched a few months ago, Ray Wert pleaded to readers to be patient and try to get used to it – I did my best, visiting each day and trying to force myself to like it, or at least try to understand why they did it.

The problem is that there is bad design, and then there is BAD design. And on that scale, the Gawker redesign is HOLYSHITWHATWERETHEYTHINKINGBAD!!!!!!!!!111 design. They decided that an entirely AJAX based platform with multiple scroll bars and no clear navigation was a great idea, and made their blog nothing short of unreadable, especially on laptops that don’t have an external mouse.

As you may know, I work in digital marketing and do a lot of consultation on SEO-friendly web-design. I’ve spent countless hours explaining to clients why JavaScript navigation is bad, why designing an entire site in AJAX is a bad idea, why good SEO means good User Experience, and so on. It is almost like Gawker  took all of this advice and decided to do the exact opposite. This post on Conversation Marketing sums up my feelings well, but I’ll also take the liberty of spelling out their biggest faults in bullet points:

  • It’s an incredibly(!) poor user interface
  • It is TERRIBLE for SEO
  • It is challenging to read and navigate
  • It is coded entirely in AJAX despite no real need to program it that way (you could easily design it to look nearly identical using good DHMTL & CSS)
  • It is nearly impossible to find content older than a few days
  • The only real advantage to the layout from a publisher standpoint is that they can sell more giant fly-down ads on the first page

If Aol. were to take-over Jalopnik and/or Gawker Media, I have no doubt in my mind the first thing they’d do is scrap the re-design – it’s bad for users, it’s bad for SEO, it’s even bad for advertisers. While Aol. has plenty of faults, they understand the importance of good user experience, and yes, they also understand that SEO is important if you want to remain a mainstream site for very long (I do think calling HuffPo a “commoditized SEO-centric sun” is a bit much though).

So Jalopnik & Gawker Media – here’s your chance…please follow-through on your April Fools joke and sell the site to someone who can manage it properly. I miss my daily dose of Jalopnik humor and car news, and I don’t want to see the site continue to die a slow and miserable death in this new format.

Please, please, please…sell. It doesn’t even have to be to Aol. Just to someone that has at least a clue what UX or SEO is. That’s all I ask.

Sincerely Yours,

Nick

PS leave the cheap shots against SEO out of it next time, you’re better than that…

 

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  • Comments (2)
    • r_pittman
    • April 20th, 2011

    I use a laptop with no external mouse. I used to spend half my day on Jalopnik, but now can’t negotiate it. I get my car fix from The Throttle and Hooniverse and resist the urge to comment at all because I pulled the wraps off my ’66 Porsche 911 and plan to have it back on the road by fall. I feel better about myself, but I miss my old Jalopnik obsession and I cannot fathom why they did what they did.

  1. I know exactly how you feel, and am totally in the same boat (minus the Porsche, haha)

    An article was just posted on Silicon Alley Insider called “Just How Badly Has the Gawker Redesign Crushed Traffic?”

    The results? Pretty bad: http://www.businessinsider.com/gawker-media-traffic-numbers-2011-4

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