Wade on Birmingham

The al.com 2012 front page redesign


Online reaction to previews of a new look to Alabama’s biggest website

al.com 2012 front page redesign

Online reaction to previews of a new look to Alabama’s biggest website.

Storified by Wade Kwon · Wed, May 23 2012 18:02:40

AL.com, the state’s biggest website, announced it was making changes to the home page and to its site navigation. Advance Digital, based in Jersey City, N.J., had already rolled out the redesign to sister sites in Michigan and New Orleans.

The new version launches Wednesday.
We’re remodeling your place: About the new al.com homepageEarly Wednesday morning, al.com will launch a major redesign of our homepages and navigation. Our goal is to continue standing out as the…
Comments show a fairly negative reaction. Concernedbr wrote, “Advance Digital should be ashamed of this turkey.”

• • •
To compare the designs, take a look at the front page of al.com, before the 2012 makeover …
… versus the front page of Nola.com after the makeover.
… and the new version of al.com.
Early in-state Twitter reaction was … tepid.
.@aldotcom will be renovating site soon. Will be all AL/AU football & comments. All other content deemed irrelevant.Brian LeCompte
just saw the new @aldotcom redesign. I, um, wish them luck with that. #BIGFONTS #BRIGHTYELLOWchris
• • •

Reporter Michael Tomberlin also wrote a story for the Birmingham News on the upcoming changes: “The home page at al.com is undergoing its first revisions since 2008 as part of what officials say is the most far-reaching redesign since the site launched in 1997.”

The last major revision (that I recall) a few years back opened all stories to comments; previously, only blog posts had comments, while stories from the print edition had no comment option.
My story yesterday: RT @BhamNewsBiz: http://Al.com to unveil major new look for its homepage http://bit.ly/Koe5OvMichael Tomberlin
Al.com to unveil major new look for its homepageVisitors to the most popular website in Alabama will notice some major changes when al.com launches a new format on Wednesday. The home …
Comments were a mixed bag. Mixduptranslator wrote, “This just looks terrible. Horrible. It’s amazing that the same company that owns Ars Technica, Wired Magazine, and Conde Nast owns this upcoming monstrosity of a news site.”

• • •
Kyle Whitmire of Weld had a mini-discussion on his Facebook page about the design changes.
AL.com posts a… | FacebookRevamped design based on user feedback.
Kathy Chahrouri comments in the thread, “AL.COM is such a JOKE for an online newspaper. Stupid commenters ARE NOT NEWS. It gripes me no end seeing headlines about what the stupid commenters are saying. GAH. Who thinks that is news? Except page-view-counters!”

• • •

I heard a lot of critical feedback on Twitter after sharing the news …
This is what @aldotcom will look like starting Wednesday … http://nola.com / http://mlive.comWade Kwon
@wadeontweets I’m guessing it’s because they’re all sister publications. I know NOLA is, anyway.Scott Wilson
@wilsonsway That is correct — Alabama is third in line.Wade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets Looks like Advance Digital is making a sweeping overhaul of their online presence.Scott Wilson
Yuck! RT @WadeOnTweets: This is what @aldotcom will look like starting Wednesday … http://nola.com / http://mlive.comEboni Thomas
@EboniDaScrooge They are doing it to make us better people. That is what I have been told to say.Wade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets @aldotcom when http://NOLA.com changed their site everyone complained via FacebookTeam NOLA-Ice
@NOLAIceBham Thanks! I found it: http://on.fb.me/KFGZgn / and this http://bit.ly/JduDaEWade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets YikesMike C
@WadeOnTweets I don’t want to be hyperbolic, but it might be the worst thing I’ve ever seen.chris
@Cin_D_Z @ditchell It’s a delightful punch to the face of headlines and itty bitty photos. Plus, everyone loves scrolling.Wade Kwon
Are they trying to reduce readability? RT @WadeOnTweets: This is what @aldotcom will look like starting Wednesday … http://nola.comageekgirl
@ageekgirl Wait till you see the mobile version …Wade Kwon
@WadeOnTweets ack! Talk about running yourself OUT of business.ageekgirl
Any improvement is good?! RT @WadeOnTweets: This is what @aldotcom will look like starting Wednesday … http://nola.comLK Whitney
@ditchell @WadeOnTweets I’m not sure the biggest problem w/al.com is the way it looks.Chance Shirley
• • •

Comments were somewhat negative from my Facebook post.
This is what… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Ed Noles wrote, “I think I’m digging the consolidated IA [information architecture] and the mega dropdowns… but why is it soooo yellow???”

• • •

For comparison, the rollout on Nola.com pulled in nearly 400 comments. Not surprisingly, they echo the early comments from al.com visitors.
About the new NOLA.com homepageWe are pleased to present a major redesign of our homepage and navigation. Our goal is to stand out as the most useful and responsive sou…

EddieIsDaBomb wrote, “There is no so much less actual CONTENT on the screen … huge images and headlines force you to scroll, scroll, scroll all over. A crime against usability.”

The announcement on Nola.com’s Facebook page also pulled in dozens of negative reactions.
Exciting news! – KM | FacebookOn Thursday, NOLA.com debuts a major redesign of our homepage and navigation. Prepare for a big change: Bold colors, less clutter and new…
The Birmingham News announced the updated al.com front page on its Facebook stream.
Guess what? Our… | FacebookGet the latest Birmingham, Alabama Local News, Sports News & US breaking News. View daily Birmingham, AL weather updates, watch videos an…
Al.com has not posted about the upcoming change on its Facebook page yet. Al.com posted about the change Wednesday afternoon on its Facebook page.
Have you noticed… | FacebookWhen we launch the new design for al.com homepages early Wednesday morning, it is is just the beginning of our work to make your place be…
Also, a look at how user feedback can help shape — or derail — new products and services on Birmingham Blogging Academy.
The perilous world of user feedbackGrocery IQ received hundreds of bad reviews after its latest app upgrade. I love users, even when they don’t love me or my company back. …
Birmingham designer Brian Krogsgard pointed me to this review of the redesigned Nola.com from Alabama-based designer Matt Thomas of WordPress company Automattic.
It Gets WorseThe state of web design in the news business has always been bad, but it seems to be getting progressively, demonstrably worse. It’s not …

Twitter reactions from the Wednesday morning launch …

The new @aldotcom page needs more yellow. I’m not quite blind yet.Brian LeCompte
Seriously. That header bar popping back is annoying. Make it static. @aldotcomBrian LeCompte
so @aldotcom gets an overall positive grade from me so far on the new site, but as @flashpointblog pointed out…stop the floating header bar.Matt Murphy
OMG, anyone else seen the redesign of @aldotcom today? Colors are HORRENDOUS!!Brian Wright
@aldotcom Your new web design is awful. It is not user friendly.Maxwins Racing
Ewww @aldotcom! Change it back! #changeitbackEric Craig
Can appreciate the need for an updated look at @aldotcom, but it looks too much like the yellow pages.Chuck Tonini
So, I complain about @aldotcom yesterday and today it looks like its designed for an 8 year old. My opinion at work people.clickityclack
The new @aldotcom layout doesn’t really bother me. I’ve just got to make sure that I never look at it while hungover. #BRIGHTHunter Johnson
@aldotcom Ack! Not a fan of all that yellow on the homepage. Tone it down a little!Andrea Wright
#Huntsville peeps dislike the new @aldotcom design? Here’s your new bookmark: http://mobile.al.com/advhunts/index.htmεriç αtk¡ñ§
@MattScalici @aldotcom Don’t like the yellow.Zeke Byers
@AdamThompsonAL Now @aldotcom looks like one giant Yellow Book ad.Gina Smith
what in the world is this new layout on @aldotcom??! #BRIGHT is an understatementSeth Bryan
@WadeOnTweets @aldotcom Morning! The sis told me about it earlier. I am quite fond of it. Change is good!Shermika Dunner
@aldotcom I applaud the recognition that a site redesign was needed. However, the new design color scheme and fixed header is jarring.nathan claburn
@wadeontweets Couldn’t @aldotcom give us the better navigation w/o the ugly? Those colors will make us all go blind.Carl Carter, APR
Congratulations to @aldotcom on the new layout! Kudos from @KC_ProjectsKC Projects
@aldotcom new design looks really bad. #lookslikeshit #wtfyo http://instagr.am/p/K-Q8lQhlwG/Zac Uselton
Digging the new @aldotcom http://www.al.comChris Yow
Mindfuck of the day: The same company that owns/designs @arstechnica and @wired owns and designed @aldotcomJoseph Blake
The font on the new @aldotcom appears blurry around the edges on my display. Anybody else seeing that?Taylor Nichols
On my laptop, @aldotcom’s new header takes up the entire top half+ of the screen. And 1/3 of what’s left is ad space.Taylor Nichols
It’s so cool that @aldotcom’s header follows you down the page as you’re trying to scroll away from it so you can read your article.Taylor Nichols
I think I need sunglasses to view the new @aldotcom Also, does their web admin know there is a baseball tournament going on?Melanie Hatcher
I assume the new @aldotcom was designed with a stick on a plate of mustard by a three year old in 2003. @WadeOnTweetsMatt Davis
I’ll be using Google Reader to avoid this forced http://waybackmachine.org experience that is @aldotcom.Matt Davis
I’d love the new @aldotcom design if they could use more yellow, incorporate more nasty fonts, and sprinkle in some huge flash ads.Christopher Ware
@WadeOnTweets @SecondFront @aldotcom Tried it this morning. As expected, errors on the site. #crappysiteSteve Bottchen
What in the world happened to @aldotcom ? Did it hire a blind web/graphic designer for its new site? Is today April Fools…? #hideousNathan Payne
@deongordon @walkerdl y’all say tomato… i say tomato! @aldotcom’s redesign may be bad, but it’s better than it was! ijs…Iva Williams
I have no words for the new @aldotcom design…. looks I need to ONLY read RSS from now on.Matthew Sheets 
They might as well as just move this entire @aldotcom debacle to TumblrMatt Davis
The new @aldotcom site is a kick in my eyes’ balls.Ryan Harrison
@davidmurphree You’d think @aldotcomwould have a designer or just well a human look at it prior to launch.Matthew Sheets 
I’m pretty sure that the universal reaction online today is that @aldotcom’s redesign is the worst since Geocities went extinctJoseph Blake
Holy buckets, @aldotcom has changed the web site and it is dreadful! Might take the rest of the week to find what I’m looking for.Natasha J. Parker
@Dawn_Kent I was more impressed by the new http://al.com than I thought I would be. I am now interested in digging around it.sorensonbhm
@Dawn_Kent worst site possible, pushed loyal readers away Dick Phillips
@Dawn_Kent Like it. What went into choosing the yellow?Gary Lloyd
@GaryALloyd If they went w/ red or orange, they’d get blamed for being biased toward Bama or AU, right? Totally kidding, no idea. I’ll ask.Dawn Kent
@MattScalici thought I had accidently followed a link to http://yellowbook.com. Don’t mind change, but this is not an improvement.Curt Martin
@MattScalici I mean, if the goal was to wake my eyes up, then mission accomplished, pal.Hunter Johnson
@mattscalici are we sure that yellow is the optimum color for a news page? You know, "yellow journalism," what have yougreg dawkins
@MattScalici Yikes! What was http://al.com thinking!Marynell Ford
Jimmy Rane bought http://al.com?Mark P
If it doesn’t say http://al.com on the header, believe me, you don’t want it RT @TheAuburner: Jimmy Rane bought http://al.com?The War Eagle Reader
"I’d like it to be confusing. I want the colors to be puke-centric, and I want text everywhere." – some web guy at http://al.comAdam Kramer
Everyone come check out the redesigned http://al.com!Wesley Sinor
@Birmingham_News I think the new http://al.com STINKS! I liked it the way it was. I have it as my home page, but that may change.David Green
Made my first visit to the "updated" http://al.com site and was almost blinded by the bright yellow color scheme.Ben Woolnough
@BhamBargainMom I can’t find your column with the new layout on http://al.com. I hate it alsoExplosive
The new http://al.com layout is pretty awful. The overuse of yellow being my biggest problem.Stuart Hartley
Spoiled the reveal of the new http://al.com by visiting http://nola.com yesterday. Good luck with all that, guys.Eric Turner
Best part of the new http://al.com? That postage stamp logo looking lost and confused in the upper left.Eric Turner
Have y’all seen the new look at http://al.com? It’s easier to navigate! And yellow!Elizabeth Hoekenga
http://al.com Please consider a change back Dick Phillips
The new http://al.com seems less professional. if these papers want to be considered serious they need to take a cue from NYT or WPZachary McAuley
@KaraKennedy please help http://al.com is the worst page now!!! Dick Phillips
@kammieavant Hated http://al.com before. Hopefully this will be easier to navigate, but it looks kind of "small town."Mariesa
My eyes are burning from the http://al.com redesign. Terrible.Laura
The new look of http://al.com sure is something to behold. http://blog.al.com/al/2012/05/about_the_new_alcom_homepage.html #ewBrian Krogsgard
Didn’t think it was possible to make http://al.com more unreadable than it already was. #hurtsmyeyesSusan Fillippeli
@WadeOnTweets To paraphrase a recently popular tune, http://al.com "got me scrollin’… I’m hatin’…" And why the YP yellow?Richard Kirby
I’m not a design nerd, and I don’t have much of an aesthetic sense, but wow. New http://al.com makes me want to tear my eyes out.Jason Gruber
I personally love the color yellow, so I like the redesign of the Press-Register website, http://al.com. http://www.al.com/mobile/Carol McPhail
I almost had a seizure when I looked at the new http://al.com site layout.Ross Collings
…and you thought the already horrible design of http://al.com couldn’t get any worse. The new layout looks like a cheap phonebook.Nico
Wow. http://al.com’s redesign is absolutely terrible. Just a complete UI/UX nightmare.Rob Peck
Wow. Really dislike the new http://al.com http://al.com website. Doesn’t work in standards compliant Opera web browser.Cain Markham
http://al.com. Navigation is a screen nightmare in firefox. I like the heavier use of yellow, though.Cain Markham
I don’t know how, but http://al.com has managed to make their website worse than it was. What a terrible redesign job.Chandler Parker
The only way the new http://al.com layout could be any worse is if all the font was in Comic Sans.Hays Latimer
The new http://al.com layout nice tho. They need to thank the person responsible. IjsBlkDollyParton
Dang. Y’all weren’t joking about how shitty the new http://al.com looks.Will Duncan
The YellaFella rides again! RT @TheAuburner: Jimmy Rane bought http://al.com?George Talbot
Gah, http://al.com has been hit with the same ugly stick that http://nola.com was. Oregon, New Jersey, your sites are next!Matt Thomas
@Dawn_Kent I was more impressed by the new http://al.com than I thought I would be. I am now interested in digging around it.sorensonbhm
OMG the new http://al.com is…yellow. #webdesignGabriel Tynes
Except for the blinding yellow color, the new http://al.com site has some cool new features. Good job! #just_switch_colorsMarlin Caddell
@Birmingham_News I only got a chance to glance at the new http://al.com, but it seems slick and modern.G Everett Reeves
@kammieavant The Yellow Pages called. They’d like their 90s site design back.digitaldemented
@kammieavant I think it looks like the yellow pages.Lori Merricks
@kammieavant all the yellow makes me feel like I’m at Waffle HouseSam
@kammieavant Anything is an improvementClark Virden
@kammieavant I love the "notice anything different?" You mean that I can navigate your site for the first time in 10 years? And it’s yellow.Mariesa
@kammieavant could use some more testing… http://pic.twitter.com/X4RUg5kXcraig justice
While al.com has not posted about the change to its Facebook page, that hasn’t stopped fans from sharing their thoughts there
I could not love… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
I’m trying to think… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Love the new color…. | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
I’m not sure what… | Facebookundefined
DO NOT LIKE THE NEW… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
The new layout is… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
For what it is… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
So . . . how do YOU… | FacebookGet the latest Alabama Local News, Sports News & US breaking News. View daily AL weather updates, watch videos and photos, join the discu…
I like the new… | Facebookundefined
Wow, the new AL.com… | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
What do you think of the new al.com design? Leave a comment on Wade on Birmingham with your thoughts.

11 Yips for “The al.com 2012 front page redesign”

  1. The perilous world of user feedback « Birmingham Blogging Academy
    Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 4:24 pm

    […] Early responses to the redesign were uniformly negative. […]

  2. It Gets Worse | Matt Thomas
    Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 1:01 pm

    […] home of the major Alabama newspapers. There’s a great roundup of reaction to the redesign at Wade on Birmingham. 30.882963 -87.773047 Share this:TwitterFacebookTumblrPinterestEmailLike this:Like7 bloggers like […]

  3. Rebekah
    Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 8:10 pm

    Everything about al.com sucks. And the re-design looks even worse.

  4. Wade
    Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 9:33 pm

    Should they go back to the previous layout, or go in a new direction, Rebekah?

  5. Elena
    Thursday, May 24, 2012, 9:07 am

    Looks like they’re trying to make their online presence as outdated as their print – and being successful at it, too. The fonts are large enough to read from across the room. Argh…

  6. Birmingham News, other Advance papers to cut jobs, print editions | Media of Birmingham
    Thursday, May 24, 2012, 1:17 pm

    […] Wednesday marked the rollout of a new front page design for al.com, which had previously been debuted at Advance sites mlive.com and nola.com. The new look was met with much criticism from the readers. […]

  7. Tina
    Thursday, May 24, 2012, 5:24 pm

    It certainly is yellow.

    And fonty.

    I have to say I hope they suck it up, admit they made an error in judgement, and rethink this design. The graphic designer in me finds this quite painful.

    Hopefully, they will suck it up, admit this might have been an error, and rethink it.

  8. Karla Porter Archer
    Thursday, May 24, 2012, 10:12 pm

    Not a fan of this redesign, at all. I know it’s been said plenty already, but my first thought was Yellow Pages.

    It hurts my head and eyes. A lot.

  9. Wade
    Thursday, May 24, 2012, 10:25 pm

    Tina: It won’t change back, and al.com has admitted as much publicly. Oh well.

  10. HotelsBirmingham.net
    Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 2:41 am

    The new design of al.com is rather simple compared to the previous one, but the problem is that font is too heavy. People that have eye problems will probably like the change but the first look is far much better.

  11. ADVANCE CRISIS: The insanely obsessive guide to the Birmingham News/al.com implosion | Media of Birmingham
    Thursday, May 23, 2013, 1:07 pm

    […] that explosive announcement, Advance’s online portal al.com joined nola.com and mlive.com in a drastic and comprehensive site redesign. Reaction by readers nationwide — as Advance switched all its sites over to the 2012 look — […]

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