The Pitchfork Redesign: 3 Things I’d Change

The Pitchfork Redesign: 5 Things I'd Change (Before)

The Pitchfork Redesign: 5 Things I'd Change (After)

Yesterday morning, Kyle informed me that Pitchfork, the music site that everyone has an opinion on, had launched a brand new redesign and that I should check it out. As a lot fo you know I’m a sucker for a well executed redesign, so I was curious to see how it turned out. Overall I’d say that the site seems to have some good ideas, but it feels like a step backwards. The one thing they’ve improved is their global navigation, which was old, crowded and in need of a spring cleaning. Other then that the design seems claustrophobic and monochromatic, lacking any style or vibrancy of the past design. Here are three things I’d do to put some life back in the site.

Open Things Up
The new design features not only a grey background behind the content, but a super dark grey background behind all of the content. It really makes the content look squished, rather than large and beautiful. You end up with a bunch of boxes that look too compact and your eyes don’t have a natural place to land. I’d suggest doing two things: Increasing the size of the page width to 980px to allow for more room in the gutters, and getting rid of all that grey. As you can see in my tweaked version, the results are instantly noticeable, the page looks like a breath of fresh air.

Bring Back Color
The other big thing I noticed in their new redesign is the glaring absence of red, Pitchfork’s trademark color. Like Target, Pitchfork is known for it’s punches of red all across the site, which never bothered me, personally. Now the red has been relegated to hover states only and random section titles. I’d suggest bringing the red back and using it in the logo, as well as headlines and other key points of interest.

Fonts Give Style
When I look at Pitchfork now, all I see is a Helvetica wasteland, and that’s not a dig at Helvetica. Pre-redesign the site was all in Lucida Grand, which maybe isn’t my first choice, but it certainly gave it some character. Helvetica is fine for stuff like body copy but there needs to be some sort of hierarchy between sections, and substituting a font for the titles and navigation gives it a little spark. I subbed in some Franklin Gothic, a clean and timeless font that looks good in upper and lowercase.

I also made some other changes as well that weren’t as evident but still make an impact. I adjusted the navigation to make room for the search bar. By doing that I was able to move the sharing tools to the other side of the page, giving much more balance to the header. I also increased the size of the header fonts a bit too make them more legible, and I made the body text a dark grey rather than black to improve legibility there as well.

The one last thing that needs some love is their new logo. In a general sense I really like the new logo. I’m not sure what font it is, but it’s unique and has an interesting character to it. I hate the way they’ve mutilated it though, with awkward cuts in the P and F, and the way they’ve attempted to force the points pitchfork into the K. It looks cheesy at best and really adds no value to the logo. In my version I cleaned it up and I think it looks much nicer.

As you can see, I didn’t do a whole lot, but the small details of stuff like this is extremely important, and I think they may have been overlooked. The only good way to end this post is: The devil is in the details.


August 30, 2011