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.
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.
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.