The blog over at 37Signals, “Signals Vs. Noise” has undergone quite the facelift. I navigated to it through Google Search and couldn’t believe that I wasn’t seeing the site through the lens of Evernote’s Web Clipper, an incredibly useful tool that displays web pages as plain text and images (sorry PPC advertisers, I prefer a cleaner reading environment). Although their blog was never cluttered it did seem very outdated, in a early 2000′s Blogger kind of way. The only thing punctuating the recent post flow is subtle advertisements like these:
I’m not sure if they’re using an advertising network but it seems like these kind of ads would have high click-through rates among the blog’s demographic. Signals Vs. Noise has historically been a blog where data nerds and developers go to hear 37signals staff (and sometimes guest bloggers) sound off about the latest in web technologies and design.
Is It Too Minimal?
Is there such thing as too little? Maybe. Consider that a blog is a place to seek new information. Part of good user experience entails encouraging visitors to click through to other pages and navigate through different categories. Signals Vs. Noise seems to completely reject the idea of sidebars and navigational elements. Landing on the homepage of the blog you can’t even find a place to navigate through past posts, only at the bottom are you able to see “popular entries”. I find this approach a little pandering. Perhaps they know who there audience is and prefer to cater it to their existing readers but I can’t help to think that many of the SMB customers they seek out would be turned off by this bare design. It just seems empty and lifeless with little to no encouragement to navigate to other pages.
Speaking of readability, they have managed to make the redesign “responsive“, allowing the text to shrink and expand according to the display size (desktop, tablet, iPhone etc.) This is a hot topic currently in web development, the idea of creating one single version of your website instead of a separate mobile template. Although a blog is the easiest instance to make a switch to responsive design I still applaud them for making it mobile friendly, something their reader base can truly appreciate.
Does it Really Matter?
Probably not. With Basecamp and their slew of other products 37Signals can pretty much do what they want with their blog. They’ve “earned” the right to be as obscure as they see fit. Although I doubt they see it this way I still think that they could use more user-friendly navigational elements. It just seems too thin.