In reading some of the feedback pouring in since the Wired News redesign, some of my confidence that we did the right thing initially began to erode away. The launch was somewhat anti-climactic. The press release looked like a misfire because we didn’t get the site launched as scheduled on Wednesday night. Within just an hour of pushing the site live on Thursday evening, (around 10pm pacific time) we had 4 messages from users who were irate and frustrated with the new changes, promising never to return.
The negative feedback continues to slide in. But now, the negativity is drowned out by an overwhelming positive response from the blogging community and loyal users who have taken the time to write in or make log entries sharing their perspectives, praise, gratitude and encouragement. I’ve been at HotWired for six years now, and the flaming negative hate messages which spew our way after a new redesign are not new for me. Wired/HotWired design has always been controversial — some people love the daring bright-colored attitude, some people hate it. I haven’t come across too many people who fall in the middle.
What’s interesting about the negative feedback is that, aside from the aesthetic — which is always subjective — none of the feedback is consistent. One user wants one thing, another user wants it the exact opposite. As designers, we make conscious decisions to use elements from a visual language to communicate a message or facilitate interaction. With Wired News I decided to keep, and even emphasize, the strong aesthetic of our roots. Readers who have been with us for a while understand our design history.
Love it or hate it, this is the Wired aesthetic. We’ve pushed and evolved that aesthetic over the years. However, this redesign revives a lot of the classic motifs, color schemes, and bold design elements that pushed readers into the love/hate relationship in the mid ’90s. The story of the Digital Revolution may have shriveled up into a corner, but technology continues to impact our lives in profound ways. Now, we’re just living out that impact.