The Verge Design 1.9 Review
UPDATE: A previous version of this post referred to this redesign as The Verge 2.0, but the Verge's Version History Page (which I did not know existed), indicates that this is version 1.9.
THE VERGE DESIGN
I remember back when The Verge came out and replaced This is My Next. I found the website design jarring at first and immediately longed for the minimalism of This is My Next. However, after the first time I accessed The Verge on my iPad I realized that The Verge was designed for tablets and desktop. So instead, I gave it a chance. I have grown to love the rectangle layout with headlines placed on colored filters which overlaid photographs. I loved the way I could hover my mouse pointer on a desktop over these tiles and have the colored filter do a "change polarization" effect. The Verge made slight changes over time and even introduced an entire Video section, but this recent change is probably the most drastic. Indeed, the eye-catching nature of The Verge design lead to Cisco using a mockup of The Verge in a live keynote but rebranding it as "The News". Then of course, there were the five Webby awards that The Verge took home. So with this redesign, has The Verge taken the popular eye-catching website and made it better or have they screwed it up? That's what this review is going to explore.
The first thing that stands out in The Verge's new design is the logo. It stands out because its ugly. Really ugly. We now have a gigantic orange square at the top right of the page. The old logo was much more subdued, but I suppose somebody really liked orange and needed more of it and why not make the font bigger while your at it. What's more, is that hovering the logo causes that orange backdrop change to a red hue. I can see that happening for the stories, but I'm not sure what purpose it serves for the logo. It seems superfluous since the mouse cursor already changes when you hover to let you know you can click there. I think this is taking a design cue from the story tiles and using it somewhere it is not needed. Thankfully, this new logo at the top is one of only a few bad things that have come with the redesign, but we might as well get it out of the way first since it is the first thing you notice.
The new design brings with it a new header (right under that orange rectangle of uggh). However, this new header is really nice. First off, scrolling down makes the header stick to the top of the page (it gets pinned there). And thankfully, the orange logo gets pushed off the page as you scroll down with only the grey bar sticking. Even cooler is the The Verge logo that slides in from the right (next to the search icon). There used to be a Verge logo there that would appear as you scrolled down. Clicking that logo would scroll you to the top of the page with one tap or click (really useful for long stories). However, the old clickable scroll logo was in grey and really easy to miss. The new one uses all the colors of The Verge logo and the transition to slide it in draws your attention to it.
The new header gets even better. It has reformatted the sections at the top and each one has a hover-drop-down with pictures of stories with captions. This all looks very nice. The only thing missing from this new header was the old "Products" link that allowed you to get to the products database that is maintained by The Verge (including all specs and reviews of products released in the last few years). I did notice however that clicking the search icon reveals a search box with the hint to search for "articles and products" and indeed, searching for a product name yields a result in the trailing navigation area of the page to jump right to that product review. I still however cannot find the page where I can compare products and filter them by features. Maybe The Verge designers felt this product database was too complex and they wanted to simplify or maybe the link is buried somewhere and I don't know where. Most the header is fantastic, just need to know where the product database went. [UPDATE: The products database is still there under the "Reviews" section of the header. Thanks to the commenters below for pointing that out]
Anybody who has been a frequent reader or poster in the Android Army forum will notice a significant change. The forum is gone... but not really. The forum has simply been renamed to The Googleplex. I think this is wise since Google is so much more than Android and from recent direction it would seem that "Chrome" is the preferred brand at Google and that Google might even merging Chrome OS and Android at some point. Either way, topics found in Android Army typically dealt with far more than just Android. It is good to see this change to match Apple Core and Microsoft Tribe.
Along with the name change from Android Army to Googleplex, I noticed that the Blackberry Juicers forum is now gone. I'm not sure if this happened earlier or is a result of the recent news regarding Blackberry's impending liquidation. Certainly, T-Mobile has decided that Blackberry is already dead since they are no longer stocking Blackberry devices. It would make sense that The Verge would follow suit. To all you diehard Blackberry fans, you have my condolences.
With the exception of the new logo, the redesign is both familiar and refreshing. Part of me still misses the minimalism of This is My Next, but scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking "See All News" brings a page that looks somewhat like This is My Next looked. The Verge has pushed design boundaries and with this Verge 1.9 design they are pushing them further. However, I would say that some of us expected more with the next Verge redesign. Perhaps the big changes are coming in The Verge 2.0.
PROS: Header, Forum Changes
CONS: Big Orange Logo &
Missing Hard-to-Find Products Database
LOGO: 6 / HEADER: 9 / FORUMS: 10 / OVERALL: 8.6