If you’re in any way interested in new technology, you will have visited the TechCrunch site at some point I’m sure. Set up in 2005 this US based site offers news and analysis on all things tech, start-up profiles, product previews and web site analysis.

TechCrunch quickly grew to become a very popular site with 4.5 million rss subscribers. The big and controversial news in September 2010 was that AOL was to purchase TechCrunch, which it did in January 2011.

Yesterday saw the launch of a big redesign, which began before talk of the AOL takeover, but was completed in conjunction with AOL staff.

Any redesign of a popular brand or site is fraught with troubles these days. Thanks to the internet, loyal customers and users have a place to vent their anger at the changes. The pinnacle of this was seen in the GAP logo redesign and backtrack.

The TechCrunch update is quite a big one, dropping the simplistic text based logo with a stylised pixelised TC. Fans of the site were always going to hate it.

Indeed TechCrunch predicted this backlash and has written a number of self depreciating articles in preparation. They have prepared for the hatred not simply by trying to explain why they made the changes but by injecting a good deal of humour.

I assume the intensity of vitriol dealt out by users goes beyond aesthetic evaluation of the new look. Regular web site users will be used the the intricacies of the existing site, knowing where to look for the content they are after, how to share articles and have a good handle on how to navigate the site. This big update mixes all of this up. The site is based on the WordPress blog platform but customised coding and lots of hard work makes it unrecognisable from many of the generic WordPress sites floating around the web.

A posting last week prepared users for the change and included a small snapshot of the new look. The hatred began. On launch Dave Feldman, product manager (input from AOL there) of the redesign put up a strong defence and opened the comments for the backlash! A little later contributor Paul Carr posted a Copy and Paste Hate Mail Template for none lovers to use when getting in touch.

I don’t use the site all that much, relying on my RSS reader to give me the content so it’s more important for my reader to display TechCrunch in a pleasing way on my Android handset (which it does). The new look is a success in my opinion, much better than the old site which I thought was visual overkill and very difficult to navigate by an occasional browser.

The new logo isn’t instantly beautiful but it does say ‘digital’ and compared to the old one which was pretty much none design. The big titles are great and better still when all caps and overlapping the article image. Taking the pixel hints to other elements across the site keeps a nice consistency, and ad’s are present but not annoying. The site seems a deal more simple to navigate and is much easier on the eye.

And I really loved the way TechCrunch approached it, Feldmen’s explanation that they used AOL Paint plugin UltraLogoMatic2000 is most humorous, I think other corporations could take a page out of the TechCrunch book when describing their re-branding exercises, rather than blag some explanation full of marketing mumbo jumbo speak.

The Old Logo

Old Logo