Design I Like: Pitchfork

The iconoclastic music site’s crisp functionality is practically a subversive act

I’ve been an admirer of Pitchfork’s design for quite a while. I visit the site daily, in search of news, reviews and to stream samples of my favorite band’s latest songs. It’s an enjoyable experience because:

  1. It’s clean, simple, pragmatic. Its photography and editorial voice are given the space to express the brand.
  2. The navigation is clear and concise.
  3. Color is used judiciously so as not to get in the way of the naturally dynamic content.
  4. Pitchfork’s most popular features are conveniently located, occupying prime real estate at the top of the scroll.
  5. Its functionality is also fun. I can stream songs without interruption across the whole site.
Pitchfork’s previous design, as of Monday

Then on Monday, it became their previous design.

At first, I was taken slightly off guard by the switch, but I’ve assimilated to some of its improvements. It’s a natural evolution of what had come before: Starker, more streamlined.

Pitchfork’s new homepage design
A new review page design
Pitchfork’s new Best New Albums page
  1. Gone, or at least muted, is the old Pitchfork brand iconography on the homepage.
  2. The site has been made starker by the stripping out nonessential color and layers.
  3. The brand’s fiery red-orange now functions to highlight triggers on rollovers and in branding icons.
  4. The typography is more sharply displayed, especially on the review pages, which flow smoothly from post to post.
  5. Navigation is more concise than before. A new scroll-activated navigation bar builds more utility into the site’s already crisp functionality.
  6. The design’s continued reliance on structure assures continuity across the site, while the white space within the architecture adds to a more relaxed scan of the content.

Negatives: The ads are a lot more obtrusive than before, distracting me from an overall more pleasurable user experience. The advertising pushes popular content, such as the most recent daily reviews, down the page. It would be nice to have more of that content above the first scroll, or without always clicking the “Reviews” tab.

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