3 lessons startups can learn from the infamous Gizmodo redesign

Gizmodo shipped their boldly redesigned home page February 7 amidst a sea of controversy. The redesign was almost universally panned by it’s readers and traffic dropped significantly. I decided to dissect Gizmodo’s redesign and distill three lessons entrepreneurs could learn from their mistakes.

1. Communicate clearly to your users

To understand how you were suppose to use the new site, Gizmodo put up a tutorial. If you must explain how to use a news website, you’ve probably blown it. The infamous Gizmodo redesign happened when designers and coders became more interested in HTML then communication.

When you’re building the UI and UX of your app, make it as simple as possible.

2. Multiple small frequent iterations are better then one massive change

Gawker Media (Gizmodo’s parent company) shipped their CMS with glaring bugs. Many users reported that pages weren’t loading, the scrollbars weren’t scrolling, and the site was completely useless without javascript. They could have very easily broken up the redesign into several minor improvements and rolled them out one by one.

It’s better to have fewer features that are ultra-polished then a big bag of crap.

3. Treat your users with respect

I stopped reading Gizmodo when they started to cover up their main stories with slide-down dynamic ads. You had to wait 5-10 seconds to even read the title of the first story to see if you were interested in reading it.

As Paul Graham said “Users are hovering over the back button [of their browsers]”. Don’t give your users a reason to leave your site immediately by disrespecting them with obnoxious advertisements.

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