Though Hurricane Irene had most of New York hunkered down this weekend with a fifth and enough flashlights, batteries, and canned food to outlast the second coming, the folks at Pitchfork must have been hard at work; the Chicago-based music site rolled out rolled out a major redesign, the first since spring 2009, Sunday afternoon.
Pitchfork has ditched its basic white-and-gray layout (stock Wordpress theme, anyone?) for a more compact, image-heavy design, featuring album art for reviews in a quilt-like collage instead of its previous text-heavy format. According to president Chris Kaskie, the redesign has been in the works going on 9 months.
"We have a lot of content on our site; [before], it was often difficult to access all that content," he says. "We wanted to figure out a way to get more [content] on the front page.
In addition to making the site more navigable, Kaskie says the new design gives Pitchfork's video components "room to breathe": Pitchfork.tv now features separate channel pages and an enhanced search engine. And it was mostly done by Pitchfork itself.
"We designed everything in house with some initial inspiration coming from a local agency called Killswitch as well as some help from friends at One Design Company," Kaskie says. "But more than 95% of it was built in house, 100% of backend -- nearly fully completed by our good folks!"
Despite the fancier kicks, however, the reshuffle's main goal was to let the content shine beyond the platform itself. "We've always felt like the design and gorgeousness of our website [should be] driven by record covers," says Kaskie. "We cover so much great media; [we want that] to drive … the site, and have the infrastructure be more subtle. We think we've accomplished that."
It wouldn't be Pitchfork, however, if it's users weren't divided. One Twitter user lamented, "Not wild about the Pitchfork redesign. I give it a 6.8."