Home Gawker The Gawker Redesign, by the Numbers- HOW GAWKER FAILED.

The Gawker Redesign, by the Numbers- HOW GAWKER FAILED.


I don’t want to be misunderstood on this point: most, if not all, of Gawker’s writers are doing fantastic work. Unlike most other sites I read, not a single byline makes me automatically skip a post. Richard Lawson’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recaps, in particular, are some of the funniest writing I’ve seen on the internet lately. So it’s not the writers themselves I’m criticizing in this piece, it’s the management structure that has pushed them to produce less engaging, less traffic-generating work.

Gawker is having problems, but the user experience of the redesign is a red herring. A change in the look and feel of the site seems to have masked a more significant change in content. In response, readers are clicking fewer links—in part because there are fewer links to click—and have left in droves because the site just isn’t providing as much value as it used to—there is less depth to each post. Yes, I know that more words doesn’t necessarily mean a better post. And I know that correlation does not equal causation—other explanations for why the readership hasn’t returned could also exist. But I trust that the reason is not because Gawker no longer employs good writers. Hell, most of the 2010 writers are still with us in 2011. It seems that when individuals are pigeonholed as either curator/editors, or producer/scoopmongers, something is getting lost. Mr. Denton, please, let your writers write again.

Note on methodology: As stated previously, only posts classified as “Original Content” went into making the graphic in this piece. The following other categories were excluded:
Links: Links to original content on other Gawker Media sites. Example 1. Example 2.
Roundups: Typically daily to weekly features that summarize the news across a topic, like “media” or “gossip.”  These were excluded because while some do contain original writing, others do not, and it was too cumbersome to read them all to find out. Example 1. Example 2.
Blurbs: Brief posts that offer little to no commentary on the piece of news they are disseminating. Cannot be more than one short paragraph. Example 1. Example 2.

Calculation of “Approximate total words”: # words in Original Content (including pull quotes) + # words in Roundups.

Breakdown of posts by type:



  1. I remember when Denton changed the commenting system a couple years back, I think a lot of the regular Gawker commenters said to themselves “If I had the will power, I’d leave this place.”

    Of course, we didn’t leave.

    This redesign is different. I wish I could keep reading and commenting on Gawker but the website’s functionality is so broken that I’ve been forced to find new places.

  2. Tried accessing the site from android lately? It doesn’t work. Rest has been covered well by commeters above. Horrible idea. Lucky for him, he doesn’t have stockholders, else he’d be fired, along with incompetent monkeys that coded the new site design. I miss the site but not the blatant “f*ck you, readers” version that’s there now.

  3. I think you’re wrong, I refuse to visit any of their sites until they come up with a better format or revert to their former format. I used to visit Lifehacker and Gizmodo many times a day and now do not visit at all ever.

  4. Gawker’s redesign was a complete FAIL because it was so buggy and because it was fundamentally contrary to the way its readership had come to use the site. Add to that Mr. Denton’s de-emphasis on Gawker’s clever commentariat and the new Gawker simply became not worth the effort. I can read all of those stories elsewhere on the web without the hassle.

  5. It wasn’t simply the lesser writing or the format being bad that drove people away, it was that the format didn’t work at all on a lot of browsers. When the switch first happened, I couldn’t access any of the Gawker Media websites for a week. The pages simply wouldn’t load on my browser. At all.

    I like Gawker, but I’m not about to go download a different web browser just so I can read it.

    It’s beyond major web design failure when a significant portion of readers cannot even access your content.

  6. Denton has destroyed his flagship. It went from being a go-to site every day to being a no-go site in a blink. I really mourn the gawker that was. Apparently Denton did not like the insider community that existed. He needed new hits.

    Take this, Nick!

  7. The amount of interesting content has definitely declined. It’s disappointing to click a headline and see that all the author did was link to an article and type one or two sentences, and lately those posts are very common.

    At the same time, the redesign negatively affected the commenter community. It was incredibly difficult to post and read comments when the redesign first came out. The confusing new tabs made unstarred commenters even less visible, because “featured” meant one featured comment, “all” meant all starred commenters, and the link to see every comment was down at the bottom. I think it unfortunately made unstarred commenters feel like nobody would see what they wrote. Things are working better now in the comments, but I think a lot of people got out of the habit of commenting. Also, a bunch of “elite” Gawker commenters left and started their own website.

    Since a lot of people kept coming back to follow discussions, the buggy comments section hurt the site too. And they needed interesting comments more than ever when they dialed back the content in favor of links. Why stay on Gawker after you click the link if there isn’t a good discussion in the comments? It was the trifecta of annoying, buggy design, worse content, and fewer comments. I still visit the site, but not as often.

  8. People like myself left Gawker media’s webpages because they tried to force some kind of self-fabricated design belief down everyone’s throats. We’re all big boys and girls and we use Gawker sites like Jalopnik or Gizmodo for recreation. We’re not trying to learn some new convoluted format so that you can sell more ad space along the left and right sides. Also insulting was that you were going to decide for the viewer what stories to ‘highlight’ because you devoted the most effort and funds into via staff and connections. People go to websites to read the things they are interested in. It was a natural flow of information you could pick out before. Just like window shopping. Social media emphasizes this customization and over editing to it’s own peril. Look at Digg.

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