This Isn’t April Fools, ESPN Launches First Site Redesign Since 2009

Some media companies seemingly redesign their site every year to keep up with the latest technology and best practices in the web content world. But ESPN is an anomaly in this regard, with ESPN’s product SVP Ryan Spoon telling VentureBeat, “Nothing says we need to redesign the site.” ESPN.com is one the highest trafficked websites in the history of the Internet, getting 2.3 million visitors per hour, yet somehow hasn’t redesigned their website for six years!

Again, ESPN.com is a behemoth. The site gets more traffic than CNN, Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed, with 22 million users per day. The staying power of the previous design should be lauded if only for surviving that long, or perhaps it simply shows the power of a media company like ESPN: “You like us so much you’d stare at this ugly site for eternity.”

The roll out of their redesign actually started months ago with the redesign of their mobile app, switching from the curiously named “SportsCenter” to simply “ESPN”. The basic navigation for the website, mobile app and iPad app is about the same now that they are responsively designed.

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All three versions come with your favorite teams’ news on the left column (which you can set when you sign in), a news stream in the center, and an “ESPN Now” column on the right, which is a curated Twitter-like feed showing a mix of news, videos, and and Tweets from ESPN personalities that can be easily shared on social media.

So instead  of having a two different versions of the site, one for mobile and one for the web, every version scales to the size of each device providing a pretty uniform experience.

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Sixty-one percent of ESPN’s 94 million users in the US view ESPN exclusively on mobile devices, with a good percentage of those users viewing the mobile web version. From Spoon’s piece about the redesign on Medium, it seems ESPN is hoping the new responsive design will be pull those mobile web users to their newly redesigned ESPN app.

ESPN seems to be doubling down on mobile content cards, which appear in the ” ESPN Now” column and can be distributed to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites with one click. This is the latest evolution in mobile content, with creators having less qualms about keeping people on their actual website and instead getting views on whatever platforms are getting eyeballs.

For example, we covered the launch of Snapchat Discover, which ESPN exclusively partnered with to provide content. The partnership has gone better than either side could have imagined, and while neither party would disclose numbers, a recent Winter X Games post logged close to 30 million views. Another new feature with ESPN’s redesign is infinite scroll, with unlimited stories popping up as you scroll down the page — another signal of the shift from the pageview economy mindset.

It is yet to be seen if the new redesign will drive users to ESPN’s new mobile app, but any redesign is welcome at this point, even if it merely draws a “meh” from sports fans. ESPN.com is finally in the 21st century with a responsively designed site, hopefully they won’t wait another six years to update this one.

 

 

 

 

 



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Michael Tunney is a managing editor at Contently. He has also worked on marketing campaigns for bestselling authors like Robert Greene, Ryan Holiday, and James Altucher. Follow him on Twitter @mike_tunney.

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Byron
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Byron

I somehow still can’t set a different time zone for scoreboards, and the account settings popup still look like something from 2002.

Byron
Guest
Byron

Actually, looks like it adjusts the time zone now. Wonder if ESPN.com developers are reading the comments at TechGraphs?

Al
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Al

The story on ESPN says it’s the first update since 2009. There’s no way they’ve gone 16 years without an update. Do you remember what websites looked like in 1999?

Steve
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Steve

A lot of Times New Roman.
A lot of lists. And slow loading photos.

Alice Cooper
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Ian
Guest
Ian

Yeah this looks horrible . . . they went from the best site on the internet to one of the worst

Mike
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Mike

The new ESPN site is awful! It is only “responsibly designed” if that means making it completely garbled. Hopefully fg NEVER hires whoever designed the new ESPN site to redesign theirs!

Bill
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Bill

I actually rather like it. It’s a lot cleaner.

LHPSU
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LHPSU

The new design is a crime against humanity. Period.

Michael
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Michael

Ugh, loading so much additional media makes the site slow as molasses.

Poor Man's Rick Reed
Guest
Poor Man's Rick Reed

Oh man, that infinite scroll can be dangerous. I just killed how much time??

Jason B
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Jason B

Just a quick note – I think the previous version was known as “Score Center” rather than “SportsCenter”. I think.

Kevin
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Kevin

“ESPN.com is one the highest trafficked websites in the history of the Internet, getting 2.3 million visitors per hour, yet somehow hasn’t redesigned their website for six years!”

This sentence is the best example of tech people living in their own bubble I’ve seen in a while.
Couldn’t the popularity of the site have a little to do with the fact I don’t have to re-learn where everything is found every 3-4 months?
Most people using the internet aren’t techies. Most barely notice site design, unless it is terrible, or it is vastly different than it was yesterday.
And at the end of the day people are interested in content. If you need to keep repackaging things to make them interesting….maybe the problem isn’t the packaging.