Sometime this morning, the website of the New Yorker, newyorker.com, quietly rolled out a new look. (At this point, it seems to have only been noticed by the New York Observer. That's a separate story.) The most prominent change is the addition of a rotating slider at the top of every page that cycles through a selection of big stories. The most disappointing change is that the site now looks like every other unimaginative Conde Nast online property.
While the editors were able to maintain the signature typeface we've come to associate with the publication, there's little that's different, in terms of site structure, than the recently relaunched online homes of GQ and Details. The main pages are cluttered with category boxes -- "Featured," "Comment," "From Our Blogs," "In This Issue," "Photo Booth," etc. -- that vary in depth depending on the number of links or stories contained within. This makes it hard to distinguish one area from the next; I found my eyes roaming around and not focusing on any one section of the site except for the advertisements, which are now the only modules that stand out because they're designed by outside companies.
In a short post to the site, which can, as of this writing, be found as the latest post under "From Our Blogs," Online Editor Blake Eskin summarized some of the other changes to the site:
Our homepage now features a rotating set of lead stories, a prominent feed of recent blog posts, and more images, large and small, to help readers find favorite writers and stories as well as site features that they might not have noticed before. ... The text of our articles is easier to read, thanks to bigger type, margins, and leading, and the stories are easier to share.
Later this afternoon, after new posts push Eskin's piece down, it'll be difficult to find his note without searching for it specifically. (It'll be filed under the "Blogs" tab, but you'll have to visit the "News Desk" specifically and scroll through the posts in reverse chronological order.)
On the plus side, the new design should allow for quick and easy posting of online-only content. As the magazine's staff produces more and more content that is unrivaled by many of its so-called competitors, this, rather than the pages of the weekly issue, could be the first place to go to. I just wish it were more inviting.