G/O Media’s New Layout is a Nightmarish Hellscape Purposely Designed to Confuse and Anger You

Watching Good Websites Die is Always Hard

I feel bad for Gizmodo’s interim editor-in-chief Andrew Couts.

Couts had to make the best of a terrible situation; try to put over a horrible new layout that was likely foisted on him by the collection of herbs currently lording over G/O Media and actively trying to make the site worse, to an audience of tech savvy Gizmodo fans who know all too well why the layout was actually changed.

There was no real way Couts could have presented such a change without elliciting a largely negative response. These changes to Gizmodo’s layout have been spreading slowly to every facet of their websites. AV Club, The Takeout and The Reanimated Corpse of a Site Once Named Deadspin have all succumbed to a user experience that is purposely built and designed to be as confusing, cluttered, messy, and impossible to navigate as possible.

I mean, just look at this mess.

Pictured: A fucking mess

The layout itself makes little to no sense. The article posted at the top is fine. But what are these columns for? You’d think that each column would represent a different topic — that would make some sort of sense. But that’s not it; it appears that these articles just stick around because *shrug*. It’s also not sorted by which article has been posted the latest.

When you scroll down, ample real-estate is given to advertisements and G/O Media’s increasingly infuriating autoplay video features. Here you can find the latest posts, but now there’s redundancy with the items that are posted on the top part of the screen, along with yet another advertisement.

Then, there’s a second list of the most popular articles on the site, along with cross-posted content from G/O’s other sites. Each separate subblog gets it’s own devoted section, which results in yet more postings of the same articles, before it culminates in an infinitely scrollable Tabolaa feed.

There was nothing wrong with G/O’s verticals that called for this kind of shift in posting style. This was done for one reason and one reason only; to increase time spent looking for shit you want to read on the site, and possibly clicking on an ad that you think is actually content.

A quick spin around the blogosphere will show you just how crappy this layout is in a heartbeat. While lots of blogs and verticals use algorithms to determine what articles populate feeds first, almost all of them use a simple, easy to follow layout, because they have realized that cluttering their front pages with indecipherable horseshit is a good way to piss people off and eventually drive readers away. Look at The Verge, Tom’s Hardware, Ars Technica, Wired, Digital Trends, TechCrunch, TechRadar, CNET, Engadget; Google “tech news” and you will only find one site that’s as devoted to confusing people into accidentally clicking on shit; Gizmodo.

It won’t come as a shock that Gizmodo has seen it’s Alexa rank fall from 1,251 to 1,826 since March. Former Gizmodo editor-in-chief Kelly Bourdet announced that she was leaving on April 10th. I certainly can not speak for her, but I’d imagine decisions like this are part of what made her want to leave and find employment elsewhere, even in today’s media landscape.

As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that Jim Rich, Jim Spanfeller and Great Hill have no intention to make the sites they bought from Univision any better. They’re chasing off one of the most devoted audiences on the internet, letting valuable talent walk without listening to any of their ideas or complaints, and losing more money in the long term than they could ever hope to earn in the short term. G/O Media could have been a steady moneymaker for them, but venture capitalists and private equity firms have no desire to actually be profitable, or successful. Their success is failure. They’ll break the sites, drive the viewership away, saddle it with insurmountable death, bleed its work force, and then sell it for pennies on the dollar before buying the next thing someone likes. It’s just what they do.

As I said up top, I feel bad that Andrew Couts had to be the one to trumpet how good this new look was. He’s going to get a lot of shit for it he doesn’t deserve, and this was his attempt to be open and honest about it. He asked for feedback from the community, presumably to show to his superiors, who will likely look at the feedback, disregard it, and then turn off the comments to the site.

A world where failures can profit off the hard work of others while leaving a path of destruction in the wake is a world we’re increasingly unable to escape, and it goes without saying that it’s not a fun world to live in.

About KC Complains A Lot 135 Articles
KC Complains A Lot is another refugee from Deadspin. He enjoys writing and not caving to pressure from herbs.


  1. I feel like a few years ago I would have had more tolerance for websites with shitty layouts if there was content I wanted to access.

    However, I can’t keep track of my passwords anymore and will not visit any site that won’t let me access the content in a timely fashion. If they want to trick me/my computer to click on an ad, so I have to go back and try to relocate what I wanted, I’m not going to engage at all. I put up with that nonsense on their mobile site, I’m not doing that here.

  2. What they did to The Takeout isn’t that bad. They have a recurring video feature posted by someone, I can’t remember her name, who is sheltering at a relative’s house. It’s kind of funny sometimes and the videos are mercifully short. And they don’t autoplay, at least not for me.

    Occasionally some random post from many months ago will pop up and I’ll click on it. The topics are “evergreen” in that they are timeless. I must have missed them the first time around. Not a real example but stuff like, “X loves thyme and here’s why: Ways you never knew you could use it.”

    I cook a lot, and have the pandemic paunch to prove it, so this is always interesting to me. The only drawback is I hesitate to comment on something that’s 19 months old lest I look like a shut-in with way too much time on his hands, but aren’t we all at this point?

    But yeah, that Gizmodo homepage is…something.

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