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August 18, 2010 7:56 PM   Subscribe

After nearly a decade in dark blue, the entertainment review aggregator site Metacritic.com launched its first major redesign last week, abandoning its old data- and list-heavy format for graphics, features and a more professional white background. The site invited users to comment on the changes on its blog, where they are being almost universally panned.

Metacritic posted its response today.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
After nearly a decade in dark blue, the internet aggregator site Metafilter.com launched its first major redesign last week, abandoning its old link- and FPP-heavy format for graphics, features, and a more professional green background. The site invited users to comment on the changes on MetaTalk, where they are being almost universally panned.
posted by LSK at 7:57 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Everyone always hates when sites change.
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on August 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Looks like metacriticcritic.com is available for registration.
posted by axiom at 7:58 PM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


You don't say.
posted by dhartung at 8:00 PM on August 18, 2010


It's an odd sense of entitlement. When a grocery store rearranges the shelves, and puts the olives in aisle 2 instead of aisle 6, we might grumble, but only the most persistent control freak would think to complain to the manager. Yet, when a site changes it's color scheme, the people who visit it have no hesitance in voicing their displeasure.
posted by crunchland at 8:01 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I give the redesign a
100
86
75
43
0

That's an F.
posted by yerfatma at 8:02 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not one of those people who usually complains or cares about this sort of thing, but this redesign is truly atrocious. I won't even go to that website anymore; that's how much I hate it.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 8:04 PM on August 18, 2010


We speak of "the blue" and "the green". I think few of us would welcome any announcement of those site colors changing.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:05 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


And while I can see how people who liked the old would have reason to dislike the new, I don't think you can honestly say that the new site isn't far easier to read and navigate.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:08 PM on August 18, 2010


People *always* moan.

Still, it's kind of dull, isn't it? And those look like some pretty hugemongous blocks reserved for advertising/promotion there.

A mobile stylesheet wouldn't hurt either.
posted by Artw at 8:08 PM on August 18, 2010


Well, I have to say I don't like it. I actually really, really liked the old site design - it wasn't flashy, but it was very information-dense and fairly attractive. It was good for finding what you wanted to know, made decent use of screen real estate, and worked well in general.

The new one... it's got too many pictures and it isn't as readable. Information isn't as dense, and it continues the horrible website tradition of not using the left and right quarters of the screen. Plus, well... I liked the blue. White backgrounds cause eyestrain.

I usually don't mind the changes sites go through, but this seems to be pretty much for the worse all around. It does make metacritic look a lot more like other websites, but it does so by imitating their flaws. They're probably going to keep it because it's flashier and easier to hide ads on, and it probably works better on mobile devices, but I definitely liked it better before.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:09 PM on August 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


abandoning its old data- and list-heavy format

.
posted by mlis at 8:11 PM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I dunno-- in a not-flickr-old-skool way, I followed a google search link to a metacritic page today, having never seen the site before in my life (happenstance) and found I was utterly unable to parse the tossed salad that appeared on my screen in any way, shape or form. I closed the window after about 15 seconds of futilely trying to make anything of it whatsoever. I think it's a horrid layout.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:13 PM on August 18, 2010


I'm not the type to scream fail or somesuch, but I do remember the old site being easy to use on mobile browsers while the new one is kinda a pain. I also don't like that its less information rich. Previously you had rows of new stuff from all the categories. Now you get much shorter rows and most of the real estate dedicated to movies. Sorry Metacritic, but you're not going to outdo Rottentomatoes. Your biggest asset was your videogame and TV listings. Now you're just another movie review site with a lots of links to hosted video.

I'm sure a lot of people like the aesthetic design but it looks like a mildly modified Drupal installation to me. Its not bad looking as much as it looks half-assed and dedicated to the "we need more video like youtube" disease which is turning so many good sites into little more than flash video portals. Previously, the site was a low bandwidth and quick way to get ratings. Dunno, but it works like shit on my phone now and I think I'll just spend more time at the AV club which has a proper mobile page.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:17 PM on August 18, 2010


I'm not a huge Metacritic fan, but I still visit it when I'm trying to pick between two movies. What bugs me about this new design is that it lists the professional critic reviews right beside - and in a column the same size as - the user-submitted comments. The latter used to be shoved at the bottom of the page. That was exactly the right place for anonymous internet reviews to be and their presence higher up makes me wonder if this latest designer has heard of the internet, and if they know the horrors out here.
posted by ZaphodB at 8:19 PM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's an odd sense of entitlement. When a grocery store rearranges the shelves, and puts the olives in aisle 2 instead of aisle 6, we might grumble, but only the most persistent control freak would think to complain to the manager. Yet, when a site changes it's color scheme, the people who visit it have no hesitance in voicing their displeasure.

Voicing one's displeasure ≠ sense of entitlement. And visitors to Metacritic are much less of a captive audience than grocery shoppers, but perhaps more devoted in their own way. I am always happy to have feedback of this sort on my own projects. That doesn't mean I will always agree with it.

People *always* moan.

This is true; the people who already visit a site are probably quite happy with the current design, and those who aren't happy with it probably aren't going to be visiting often enough to develop the attachment to the site that results in posting feedback.
posted by grouse at 8:19 PM on August 18, 2010


Sounds like they cut a lot of features to focus on having bigger pictures of newer stuff on less comprehensive pages. That's really not what I go there for.

* 0% fresh
posted by Artw at 8:19 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't like the "what people are saying" block that takes up substantial screen space. Someone is saying The Last Exorcism "looks badass". Cool. Thanks.
posted by codacorolla at 8:23 PM on August 18, 2010


Yeah, "people" can fuck off. Screw whatever "social media expert" came up with that one.
posted by Artw at 8:27 PM on August 18, 2010


I could give two shits about the color, but the site is harder to use and less useful to me than before. For that reason alone, it is a crappy redesign. Shouldn't the goal be to make the site easier to use - or at least not harder?
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:28 PM on August 18, 2010


Meh. It's higher bandwidth and requires about two more clicks than before to get to what I always want, which is: Show me new movies/new DVDs, Sort by score.
posted by CarlRossi at 8:31 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hadn't been to the site in a few days, so I missed this.

The redesign is terrible. The old site was nearly perfect in its layout and its effective presentation of information. I used it frequently. This is changing shit just to change shit. I hope their traffic drops off precipitously and they're forced to quietly roll back.
posted by felix betachat at 8:42 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


You'll get over it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:43 PM on August 18, 2010


I don't like the "what people are saying" block that takes up substantial screen space. Someone is saying The Last Exorcism "looks badass". Cool. Thanks.

It's also shockingly at odds with the site's entire purpose. Look at the name: Metacritic. It's an aggregator; the whole point of sites like metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes is that a single review tells you very little, but that all the reviews together make a handy consensus. One blurby quote, from some random user, is the exact opposite of aggregation.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:44 PM on August 18, 2010


It really is a shockingly bad redesign. I don't say that because I loved the old layout so much, or that I'm kneejerk resistant to change. It's just poor user experience design, and a misguided attempt to social-media things up, because, you know, that's what all the kids are supposed to be in to these days.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:49 PM on August 18, 2010


The new Metacritic design is not good. They've taken what was a fairly distinctive, usable and information-dense visual identity and obliterated it in favor of something that looks like everything else on the Internet, and is more cluttered and less task-oriented than what it replaced.

I don't think I really got this until Matt disclosed the professional-white-Metafilter-that-almost-was a couple months back, but overhauling an established internet "brand" by giving it a sharp-looking visual design can be pretty harmful. I'm glad Metafilter remains blue and homely to this day - the simple, calming, frill-less look of the place is part of its genius.
posted by killdevil at 8:52 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a huge metacritic fan, but I don't use it for movies at all. I'm undecided about the change.

Any suggestions for tv & game review aggregation alternatives?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:56 PM on August 18, 2010


Yet, when a site changes it's color scheme, the people who visit it have no hesitance in voicing their displeasure.

Maybe.
But I've never visited either version before today, and I can't say I'm a big fan of the new version.

It's so..generic. White box[1], centered, surrounded by blank space. It looks like an out of the box WP template or something.

At least they didn't go with the skinny, pseudo-newspaper columns so that's a plus!

[1] A fixed size white box at that, in 2010. I've got more almost as much empty space as content when I browse at close to full screen.
posted by madajb at 8:56 PM on August 18, 2010


The colors aren't a big deal, it's the overall new layout changes that make this a bad design.

I go to Metacritic for the same reason most people do, I think... I want a quick score or a list of highest-rated somethings. Until the change, that's been a simple little table, sorted by score.

This new design hides that info in deeper, darker corners; paginates them the way awful blogs break top-10 lists into 4 pages; and ornaments the hell out of them with graphics I don't need.

Definite F.
posted by rokusan at 9:09 PM on August 18, 2010


I'm glad Metafilter remains blue and homely to this day.

It's necessary. The day MetaFilter starts looking like the rest of the web, it's over.
posted by rokusan at 9:10 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It looks like an out of the box WP template or something.

You just barely beat me to that one.

The old one wasn't exactly gorgeous, but it had some distinctive style. The new one is just...nothing. It brings to mind the Tropicana relaunch, where they took familiar branding elements and threw them away without adding anything.

What are they thinking?
posted by Epenthesis at 9:17 PM on August 18, 2010


This new design makes it harder to find the information I want to find on Metacritic.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:18 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Users hating on redesigns has almost become a joke amongst web developers.
posted by bjork24 at 9:23 PM on August 18, 2010


What Devils Rancher said. I have not been to metacritic before. My first reaction on actually seeing the site - the new one - was, "?"
posted by Xoebe at 9:40 PM on August 18, 2010


Users hating on redesigns has almost become a joke amongst web developers.

Not as much of a joke as web developers that add things like:

"People Are Saying"
"The People's Score"
User Content is equal to Editorial Content
HERE IS SOME FUCKING VIDEO FOR YOU THAT IS AVAILABLE 74,000 OTHER PLACES LET US TAKE UP MOST OF THE ALREADY REDUCED SCREEN AREA FOR THIS CONTENT WITH THIS ENORMOUS FLASH PLAYER OF A COMMERCIAL FOR THE THING YOU'RE ALREADY LOOKING AT
posted by setanor at 9:52 PM on August 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Seriously. I don't care what Registered Metacritic User has to say about any fucking movie. Why would you even REGISTER to access an aggregate listing of reviews?

Best part of this thread, though, in the related posts:

"My god, does the new Altavista look butt-ugly."
posted by setanor at 9:54 PM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Users hating on redesigns has almost become a joke amongst web developers.

Ok, but there are web developers in this thread complaining about the redesign, and not b/c the colors were changed.
posted by mlis at 10:11 PM on August 18, 2010


The day MetaFilter starts looking like the rest of the web, it's over

Hey mods. You know what would be a really funny April 1 prank ...

As for Metacritic, I liked the idea, but stopped visiting the old site a long time ago. This new thing isn't even usable, unless it just doesn't open right in Firefox. Also, it looks like they eliminated book reviews. Or am I thinking of another meta site for books?
posted by kanewai at 10:12 PM on August 18, 2010


I've always loved Metacritic. Their original site design was a thing of beauty. Simple, modular layout. A soothing blue-and-black theme, like the inside of a darkened theater. Eye-catching splashes of red criticism and green praise. And the whole system, data-rich as it was, remained highly intuitive.

Sometime last year they changed the main content area to sharp-edged white space, which was a big step backwards. I even emailed them asking if they'd ever have an option to switch to the old layout. They said they were planning on adding a toggle in the profile settings, but nothing ever came of that. It was disappointing, but at least it still worked.

But this? This is ghastly. All the blue is gone, replaced with cross-hatched off-white. The homepage is cluttered with blocky black boxes and useless panels (Movers & Shakers?). The formerly distinctive metascores are now lost, their red/yellow/green scheme clashing with the busy graph paper (?) background. And the meat of the site, the review pages, are crippled, with the full listing of review snippets hidden behind multiple clicks and the user scores unjustly promoted, giving gems like this equal billing with Roger Ebert. It's like they poured out a stale bucket of Web 2.0 genericism all over the site. I just hope the deluge of negative feedback convinces them to undo this mess. They do Deal With Criticism, after all. (Or did, until they changed the tagline, too, FFS.)

In the meantime, apps.metacritic.com redirects to a functional version of the previous design, though I don't know how long that will last. The search function will deliver results that take you to the new site, but most of the links on the front page to recent releases and such will give you the old look.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:26 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only reason I preferred Metacritic to Rotten Tomatoes was its layout. RT usually has better data (or so it seems to me and my self-selection biases) but their website is terrible. I loved the old Metacritic, it was so easy to quickly parse the general critics' take on a new movie. This new design seems to be trying to emulate RT and I don't like it one bit. No sir.
posted by jnrussell at 10:28 PM on August 18, 2010


jnrussell: "The only reason I preferred Metacritic to Rotten Tomatoes was its layout. RT usually has better data (or so it seems to me and my self-selection biases) but their website is terrible."

I never understood the appeal of the RT rating system. Why would you want to know the percentage of reviewers that merely gave a movie a "decent" score? You could have 90% of critics give a movie the equivalent of a C+ and it would get a 90% on the Tomatometer. It feels like with Metacritic, you get a much more granular feel of what the critics thought. Browsing through old titles, their scores match up quite well with how I felt about things.

Agreed on the design, though. RT is way too disorganized. And Metacritic just took a great running leap in that direction.

kanewai: "Also, it looks like they eliminated book reviews. "

They had a book review section, but stopped updating it circa 2007. The redesign junked it, but you can still access it using the legacy apps.metacritic.com site:

Book review home page
Best-of lists: 2006, 2005, 2004, all time

The links at the top of those pages will take you to the winners of each year's book awards as well as the top-X lists from prominent critics.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:37 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter, don't ever change.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:23 PM on August 18, 2010


Wow, Rhaomi's 'original' link is great! This has encouraged me to make a site that has light text on a dark blue background.
posted by breath at 12:03 AM on August 19, 2010


Thanks Rhaomi! The book reviews were the real draws for me. I really liked the way it was done. Anyone know of any similar, current sites?
posted by kanewai at 12:29 AM on August 19, 2010


Why do so many websites "upgrade" themselves into junk? Is it the same lemming-like instinct that leads cable channels into network decay?
posted by Kevin Street at 12:38 AM on August 19, 2010


YOGI BEAR

Scodiac: It will be probably be a good movie for a family with young children.


Wow, with such compelling comments as these on the front page, how could I not want to browse user reviews?
posted by Wuggie Norple at 1:07 AM on August 19, 2010


This reminds me of when there is a band you really like a lot and have grown up with goes and bring out an album that you eagerly rip open and get on and it just doesn't cut the mustard. Try as you like it is just not up to scratch and memories of the halycon days of yonder slip ever further away.

Seriously change for change sake blows. The simplicity of the old site was its number one asset and to go and take that away is disapointing to say the least.

On reflection - what rokusan said sums it up nicely.
posted by numberstation at 1:46 AM on August 19, 2010


I liked the old Metacritic because it had, like, information. But this new design is virtually information-free and appeals to my "Now Generation" sensibilities.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:08 AM on August 19, 2010


Sounds to me like they needed more revenue, so they redesigned it to show more ads.

Which, ironically, may actually cost them revenue, because damn if that isn't fugly.
posted by valkyryn at 5:08 AM on August 19, 2010


I've not made much use of Metacritic over the years, so I have no emotional investment in it or its design. Clicking around, though, it's pretty obvious that the new design is a step backwards as far as information retrieval goes. It's pretty much a "me too" design that looks like about a bazillion other sites. It seems built to maximize page views and, thus, ad views. But, that's the name of the game these days, isn't it?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:18 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not really all that upset about it, it's still pretty uncluttered for a modern website and I'm not finding it too hard to find things. It's not nearly as bad as IMDB's fairly recent update.
posted by octothorpe at 5:23 AM on August 19, 2010


When a grocery store rearranges the shelves, and puts the olives in aisle 2 instead of aisle 6, we might grumble, but only the most persistent control freak would think to complain to the manager. Yet, when a site changes it's color scheme, the people who visit it have no hesitance in voicing their displeasure.

In the latter in particular, there could be automated (either in software or in wetware) processes that need modification. Interface control documents!

But even in the former, I've come THIS close to complaining at my local grocery store. I mean seriously, there's no ketchup next to the mustard and relish. Isn't that just common sense and courtesy? So where is it? By the BBQ sauce. In a different aisle. The only reason I didn't complain was that they actually changed it before I got a chance to. They still aren't next to each other, but they are at least at opposite ends of the same aisle. Oh and they keep putting the pesto in random places, when they put it anywhere, so that I have to just look for it every time in hopes of finding some once a month or so.
posted by DU at 5:58 AM on August 19, 2010


Thank goodness Metafilter upgraded to the professional white theme years before it became uncool.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:00 AM on August 19, 2010


Now that I've had a chance to look around and go to my regular sections of the site, I...don't mind it. I find it very readable.

BUT...the overall look of the site is incredibly generic. It's that same Wordpress-y look that's taken over many of my favorite websites, and I find that kind of depressing.
posted by Pants McCracky at 6:17 AM on August 19, 2010


Users hating on redesigns has almost become a joke amongst web developers.

Which is a joke.

As to the site, Salon's redo is still champ for atrocity.
posted by Trochanter at 8:46 AM on August 19, 2010


I think the point is that users hate all redesigns, good or bad, because they hate change.
posted by smackfu at 10:02 AM on August 19, 2010


If your try to view it in a larger-than-normal font size -- i.e., your eyes aren't so good so you ctrl++ every page in order to read easily -- many parts of the layout break.

Boo, metacritic! Boooo!
posted by moonbiter at 10:55 AM on August 19, 2010


I think the point is that users hate all redesigns, good or bad, because they hate change.

The point is precisely the opposite -- that there are good and bad redesigns, and this isn't a good one.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:27 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you name any high-traffic, well-known site that underwent a major redesign that wasn't panned by a large percentage of the users?
posted by crunchland at 4:32 PM on August 19, 2010


Can you name any high-traffic, well-known site that underwent a major redesign that wasn't panned by a large percentage of the users?

"Can you name any surgical procedure gone horribly wrong that hasn't been received favorably?"
posted by setanor at 5:39 PM on August 19, 2010


So you're indicating that any redesign is comparable to a surgical procedure gone wrong?
posted by crunchland at 6:31 PM on August 19, 2010


Can you name any high-traffic, well-known site that underwent a major redesign that wasn't panned by a large percentage of the users?

Yes! Yes, I can!

No, wait I can't. I know, I should pay way more attention to shit that doesn't matter even a little teeny tiny bit to pretty much anybody.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:33 AM on August 20, 2010


I think the take-away for website designers is that if you run a website that's something other than a vanity blog, you need to implement changes incrementally, or the user-base will balk. Tiny changes over the course of time. If you're in a competitive niche, a whole new color scheme and layout change is enough to make a large proportion of users flee.
posted by crunchland at 5:40 AM on August 20, 2010


You need to be able to parse the "vocal minority" of users who wouldn't be happy with any sort of re-design, and the rest of the users who may either like or dislike any changes without the urge to spew on the internets.

As to metacritic, the same information is there but I have to click about 4x more to access it... That's kinda annoying.
posted by stratastar at 8:39 AM on August 20, 2010


Well, my mom went and saw "Eat Pray Love" this week and she was looking at reviews for the movie. I said there's this site that has all the reviews together so you don't have to go back to google all the time.

Pre-redesign, I would have had to click once to get a list of all the major critics' reviews for the movie, with links to those reviews. Now, I had to click four times. With a wait for a page load each time. And a wait for the page to wake up each time so I could scroll to the necessary next page button.

I can only think each of those clicks made somebody some money because they didn't do me any good.

And seriously, I used to pump MetaCritic to my friends because it was so sleek and so much less bullshitty than Rotten Tomatoes.
posted by Trochanter at 5:41 PM on August 21, 2010


Rotten Tomatoes still likes to throw interstitial ads at you, which is worse than any redesign in my mind.
posted by smackfu at 8:14 AM on August 22, 2010


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