Grantland is a popular sports & pop-culture blog that was started by veteran writer and sports journalist Bill Simmons. Grantland is associated with ESPN, but really it's Simmons' playground to do the things he's always wanted to do. The site features contributions from Simmons and other writers that cover a wide range of content. It is named after famed 20th Century sportswriter Grantland Rice.
Last week, I noticed that the site went through a bit of a redesign. The third change since it started in 2011.
According to a Quora post on Forbes, the main purpose of the redesign was simply to boost revenue. Restructure would allow for more prominent ad space (ads = money), exposure of more internal links would drive more clicks (more page views = more money) and emphasis on other sections could lead to potentially site spin-offs...that would make more money.
In no way am I knocking the idea of making more money. It's one of my favorite sites therefore I prefer that it does well so it can continue to crank out good work. Instead, the goal of this post is to focus on some of the design changes that are both noticeable and unnoticeable.
The first thing that changed is an update to the their logo and mast head. I think it's a huge upgrade. The font choice, colors and new sense of dimension give it a more modern look, while still maintaining an old school sports vibe. The 'G', which is used as an avatar for most social networks, is also worth calling out since it's used so much.
The logo, color palette and event font choices are all steps in the right direction. My biggest issue is in the smaller details on the actual site:
- There's too many types of visual dividers to break up the content. There's a thick black rule, a double-lined rule, a dotted rule, and color blocks. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
- The setting of the type is a little sloppy. Harriet Display is a great font for headlines, but I think leading of the blog titles is a bit too tight. I also wish there was more space between the titles and sub-copy.
- The site would also benefit from some more negative space. At least build in some more padding, especially on the mobile version of the site which feels extra cramped. I suggest taking some notes from the New York Times redesign.
My last bit of advice would be to really blow out the branding of The Triangle and Hollywood Prospectus if the plan is to potentially spin those off one day. Right now, the current branding doesn't stand out from the rest of the page and the yellow banners aren't really helping.
A great example is what New York Magazine did by creating a network of what used to be smaller sections of the site. Each section was fully branded so users we aware they were in a different section. Now, those pages are full-blown sites filled with dedicated content about pop-culture, food and fashion. Grantland could totally be the next site do this.
Overall, I'm excited to see the site grow and evolve, especially on tablet and mobile. Grantland is the equivalent of a bunch of designers leaving a big agency (ESPN) because they thought they could do it better...and they are. I've been a huge fan of the site since it started and hope for the best. Just please...please, don't add pop-ups to the site.