Redesigns are hard. From agreeing on the initial brief right through to weathering the brickbats hurled at you if you change anything people don’t like, it can be a traumatic process. Because of that those undertaking a redesign often tread very carefully, and present their new look and feel in the softest, blandest and most conciliatory ways imaginable. Unless you’re The Onion. The Onion did nothing of the sort.
The satirical news site unveiled its latest redesign yesterday and accompanied it with an essay talking readers through the changes. But rather than pussyfoot around how and why it had changed what it had, it decided to have some fun, lambasting its loyal audience and celebrating their own unfettered genius. The result is terrific.
“The Onion’s world-renowned, industry-leading brand of journalism has long stood as the pinnacle of human achievement,” it begins. “So as we contemplated how to update our website, we were confronted with a seemingly impossible question: How can one improve upon perfection?”
It continues: ‘The primary goal of The Onion’s redesign is to make our world-class journalism more accessible to the masses.” This led to creating an infinite scroll and “readers are encouraged to constantly scroll downward on their browsers at all times, during every moment of every day. An entire catalogue of news and information is now at your fingertips as long as you ignore any impulse to eat, drink, or sleep, instead devoting all your time and energy to scrolling further and further and further until your body eventually reaches such a point of exhaustion and dehydration that your organs shut down and you cease being of any value to The Onion.”
“The curated content will update every few hours in order to more efficiently and effectively herd all of you like the hapless, thick-skulled cattle you are.”
There are some completely made-up new features such as a scream-operated sidebar, while elsewhere curatorial decisions are explained in brutally blunt terms.
“Web users are universally dimwitted, incompetent, and effectively brainless—not to mention often physically repulsive—and for that reason, the newly designed website will feature curated content from The Onion’s award-winning staff of editors.
“The homepage contains a dedicated section with recommended articles for readers like you who are undoubtedly too dumb to find such things on your own. Moreover, the curated content will update every few hours in order to more efficiently and effectively herd all of you like the hapless, thick-skulled cattle you are.”
Handy bullet points rattle through nicely bizarre additions such as its very specific “optimisation For The Motorola RAZR” and options for advertisers to essentially meddle with anything and everything across the site from content to colour schemes, a sly dig maybe at those media platforms whose commercial relationships have come under vociferous attack recently.
Anyone wishing to air their thoughts is told in no uncertain terms that feedback is “strictly prohibited” and besides the site is under no illusions as to the success of its new look. “The Onion has long been the standard-bearer for all journalism,” the editors write, “but with our new redesign, we are now also the standard-bearer for the internet itself.”
It’s brilliantly written, completely on brand and should be required reading for anyone talking about their new redesign in any capacity.
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