I’ve always been a big fan of the designs and layouts used by Gawker blogs throughout the years. They seem to always been trying something new and they iterate often. While some blogs push the same tired look from years ago, Gawker continues to innovate.
Since they just pushed some new features last week I thought I’d take you through them.
Tips Share Bar:
In the header of the Gawker sites you’ll now find a share bar for sending in tips. Since many blogs like Gawker live off these tips lowering the entry bar is a great idea. Readers can now easily submit their tips and include media like photos and YouTube videos as well.
In addition to the article title, Gawker always included a snappy heading to accompany each post. This has now been replaced with a hashtag that links to a related tag page.
While these hashtags still include some of their famous snarky wit, the focus is more on usability now, less on editorial. It’s also interesting to see the hashtag take on a life outside of Twitter, in this case replacing all tags on the site.
New Tag Pages:
Personally I’ve always thought tag pages were a horrible experience for the reader and bad for SEO. Gawker has shuffled their tag page layout around and I have to say, it’s not horrible. You get your standard listing of any related posts under this tag and recent related comments. Readers can also add their own content to these pages under what Gawker is calling their Open Forum. That’s either a recipe for disaster or a brilliant way to make these pages more compelling.
The big question is what is planned for all that wonderful white space in the header? Always looking for ways to crank out more page views per session I’d imagine they’ll include yet more related thumbnails here. However this spot could also be great for SEO. Simply include a small write up about this tag and you’d have a better experiance for both readers and the google bots alike.
Comments are Now Sharing
Borrowing from Facebook, posting a comment is now all about the share. Like the new tips share box this makes it even easier to add content to an article. Instead of being faced with multiple text fields (name, email, website, comment) the reader gets a simpler UI they’re already very familiar with.
Just drop your text comment or related media and off you go. Additionally comment replies can be formated with a Twitter like @reply as seen above. This is something Gawker was doing even before this latest redesign.
Gawker Open Forum
This latest batch of tweaks is meant to work together in concert to support the new Gawker Open Forum. Evil genius Nick Denton had this to say about it:
With the launch of Gawker Open Forums, we’re allowing readers to post tips, sightings, game cheats, amateur pap shots and spy photos directly from a form on the front page. Readers can also initiate discussions on any topic they choose simply by including a Twitter-style hashtag in their post. And commenters can expand on a story, or rebut a post, just as now.
This bold initiative is similar to what BuzzFeed does. Allowing readers to add their own objects to an article (or create a new one). On Gawker approved commenters can have their submission included on the tag pages right away. Other comments will be reviewed by staff before made live on the page.
It’ll probably take some time to flush this out and find the best mix of user gen and editorial. It should be interesting to see where this goes, and if more user generated content finds its way to homepage.
What do you think of these changes? Has Denton once again helped online published evolve beyond the standard blog or simply started to outsource some content to you, the reader?