This week the TSN.ca crew launched the latest version of the site, dubbed internally “Silver”, I saw the first preview of it a couple of months ago, and had some real good looks at it about a month ago. I think the design is fantastic, and the new HTML and CSS are clean.
It’s a little bitter-sweet for me as this is the first design since 1997 that I haven’t participated in any way on. Even when I was gone for 18 months the first time (from 2000-2001), I had helped during the major redesign, and when I got back we were just freshening up the site due to the new logo.
In 2001 I was the lead creative designer on TSNMAX, and I helped put together the big redesign in 2002. The major rebuild in June 2005 was Liam and I taking the site to the next level, eliminating as many tables as possible, and simplifying the site (although that particular redesign took well over a year to fully roll out), and this would be about the time that the itch for a new site would be coming along.
I really like the work that Liam, Kate, Andrew, Fred, and John did on the site (not to mention the entire content team, as well as Mike, Paul, Tony, and Brendenn’s contributions), but there are a few things that I would tweak still.
- Red on dark grey, a no-no in most cases, even worse when you have an audience comprised of 62% males (and considering that red colour blindness is quite prevalent in men).
- The weird little arrow buttons that look like play buttons on the headers don’t make sense to me.
- In the new scoreboard, I’d make the word Open function like the arrow.
- The “enter” key doesn’t work on the search function.
- Breadcrumbs have been eliminated, and there are very few indicators telling you where you are.
- Teams pages don’t have specific navigation (my image above addresses this issue).
- Liam thinks that they got all the pages, but the daily lines are still old school, and I noticed tonight that the Fantasy Sports pools are all using an old look (they are skinning their stuff to look like TSN’s…a practice I always hated).
- Pictures should ALWAYS link to stories. That was one of the major learnings I had with analytics, people always try to click on the pictures (the heat tracking on Omniture told me this).
Mostly though the site is fantastic, I like the new, more subdued colour scheme. The HTML is nice and clean as well (although already the validation is breaking due to the fun from ads. Once again proving to me that validation is a nice to have, but almost impossible to achieve on a large corporate site with varying levels of sophistication).
I chatted briefly with my buddy Liam who designed this version, and he’s got some interesting takes on things. He left TSN.ca a couple of weeks ago to move over to CBC, where he is now. I’ve also emailed a couple of the folks who I still know at TSN.ca about some of the fixes that might make the site better quickly.
Many people complain that the TSN.ca design borrows too much from ESPN, unfortunately that’s a sad reality. TSN is 40% owned by ESPN, so the broadcast product is heavily influenced by ESPN’s branding and look. Therefore the website has to share many of the common elements of ESPN’s branding.
I think the team has done a great job of honouring that look, while still maintaining their own identity and brand.