Nate Silver's highly anticipated relaunch of FiveThirtyEight, with all the money, power and resources of its new corporate ownership, finally arrived on Monday. The wait has been long while an ESPN tech team presumably spent months pouring code and Red Bull into building a kingdom for the data-based explanatory journalism championed by Silver.
Depending on how you look at it, the new FiveThirtyEight lands like a dud. Maybe that is because expectations were so high — Silver is literally a wizard, so could he not conjure up a fresher look? Something that would revolutionize the Internet as we know it? Those expectations are unfair, of course, but the delivered product still underwhelms. At least it does not look like everybody else, including us.
The site is aesthetically pleasing, yes, but it is mostly Grantland with a robotic, math-friendly design. The new FiveThirtyEight looks very shiny, and you can tell an unknown number of bells and whistles lurk under the sleek new surface. But Silver opted for a utilitarian look that you probably could have predicted without using a graph: lots of white space, mostly sans-serif fonts and a very muted use of color.