Nick Denton Reflects On Gawker’s Redesign Aftermath

Nick Denton Reflects On Gawker’s Redesign Aftermath

Reuters' financial blogger Felix Salmon interviews Gawker founder Nick Denton to gain some insight into how Gawker has adjusted to life after its redesign.

Stephen Fortune
  • 25 march 2011

Gawker’s recent redesign was a massive change, signaling a clear transition from a blog format to a publishing oriented model. Felix Salmon sat down for a video interview with Gawker founder Nick Denton to dissect the aftermath of the switch.

Denton shared some insight behind the redesign, emphasizing the power of an exclusive scoop as one of the factors driving the need for change. He also ruminated on how the once widely held belief that there would be a sufficiently sophisticated advertising system to support a nanopublishing model, unfortunately proved to be unfounded. In spite of this, Denton has kept the Gawker model moving in tune with the market. Salmon comments:

However he made no bones about the backlash which Gawker suffered after the change, estimating that traffic may currently be down by as much as 20%. However the outcry is neither surprising nor the real story in this transition (especially as Gawker has made provision for an anticipated drop in their business plan).

Any change on the internet is often greeted with a very vocal outcry, sometimes with an alarming drop off in numbers to match. But Denton has presided over similar moments before, such as when Gawker redesigned their comment architecture, and has weathered them successfully.

Admittedly such overhauls couldn’t match the scale of the recent redesign, but the ethos which Denton espouses is instructive to all other web publishers.

Denton wryly illustrated the contrast between the fast moving critique which whorls around websites relative to the vision and steady hand that is required to innovate them for the better when he dryly referenced Salmon’s 2005 comment that “Gawker jumped the shark today….” Denton knows well enough that furors such as the one Gawker recently witnessed are temporary in their impact.

Though Denton is brazen about the course he has steered to the point where it seems like criticism rolls off him like water off a ducks back, he does concede that there were many aspects of the redesign which could have been done better. However there would have been no way to know these aspects required additional attention without pushing through with the redesign in the first place.

One of the important insights he provided was that the diversification of web platforms, as provided by various browsers (mobile, legacy, HTML5) is an increasingly crucial concern for the publishing model that a media company adopts.

You can watch the whole video at Paid Content: Felix Salmon Interviews Nick Denton.


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