Nick Denton published a self-described “manifesto” on Lifehacker this morning detailing the Gawker network’s major redesigns for 2011. The new versions of the sites will present readers with a single story when they visit a blog’s homepage, showcasing one item over the lineup format that’s served the company since its beginnings.
The move can be viewed as the site turning away from its tried and true aggregation model, bringing original content to the fore while relegating the shorter stories to the far right column. In the age of facilitated sharing through Facebook and Twitter, Mr. Denton says he believes longer pieces and videos to be the key to growth — in the post, he bemoans watching the expansion of TMZ over “our overy bloggy” Defamer. This isn’t to say that there will be iPhone 4 or Brett Farve-level scoops every day — in the post, he says each site probably only needs “a gigantic breakout every few months” — but they’ll be easier to find when the site does nab them.
“In order to keep video of the iPhone protoype at the top of the reverse chronological flow, Gizmodo actually stopped publishing for several hours,” Mr. Denton wrote. “How ridiculous!”
The other element is advertising. The sites will feature programming like a TV network – Mr. Denton uses the example of a personal finance hour on Lifehacker – so interested parties can target their advertising by paring it with the lead story for that slot. And it goes without saying that the original content is much more attractive to advertisers over snarkier, linkier fare.
“The front page is our branding opportunity. It’s a rebranding opportunity, too, a way to demonstrate intelligence, taste and — yes, snicker away! — even beauty,” Mr. Denton wrote.
The new versions of the blogs are available at Gawker’s beta sites (e.g. beta.gizmodo.com). With older Gawker expectations in mind, it can be a little disorienting to land there and find yourself inside what used to be a post, but it’s a testament to how serious Mr. Denton is about the redesign.