Outdated Web Design Has a Purpose

Reddit redesign case study

· · design

Post image reddit-current

Reddit’s design hasn’t changed much since 2005 and looks a bit dated. Csaba Bernáth redesigned Reddit according to his vision and posted it. The redesign is modern, clean, and stylish. It looks great.

reddit redesign

Most of the comments on the redesign comprise of suggestions and praise - but the really interesting ones are about UX and the big picture.

An average designer doesn’t get to hear users’ feedback, so these comments are a gold mine.

Here’s some of the most interesting comments:

what is the goal of your redesign? what are the problems you set out to solve and how did you solve them? how does someone interact with the page? .. to me, this is not a redesign. it’s more of a skinning of the current site. all of the interactions appear to be more or less identical. the site would work exactly the same way and people would interact with it the exact same way .. what led to your decision to move the voting buttons to the horizontal orientation? do you think some of the “up” and “down” terminology loses its meaning by stacking them side to side? and why is raising the vote shown before lowering the vote? .. — Etab

When I first came to Reddit, my first thought was how unbelievably shitty the UI is, I mean, it looked horrible and was confusing. But now it’s one of my favourite things about the site, it’s dead simple and works effectively and efficiently. I’d be very sad to see it change. —gundog48

I think there is a certain charm in Reddit’s current design that makes it feel like all the content is by the community, instead of some super clean / sterile website that looks like every other site. — HowdItGetBurnd

You keep trying to make an old Digg or a new Tumblr. Reddit’s beauty is its utilitarian design which maximizes content space, be it images or text. —Phoenixed

When I open my front page I see 18 different titles — distinct from every object around them. It’s easy to read them and figure out which i want to engage with, and which I do not. With the new redesign, I get 7, or even 2 articles per page view. Most of my favorite stories don’t have good pictures associated with them. The idea that every story has a fancy thumbnail kills sites that don’t have dedicated graphics artists working for them. It always looks stock, looks wrong, or looks distracting. Most designs and mock-ups love to add in beautiful photos, but real life just doesn’t have access to beautiful photos.— randonymous

Even the highest paid design professionals make this mistake… see the failure that was(is?) Facebook Paper. It probably looked awesome as a concept where every avatar was a pretty face and people only posted amazing photos… in real life though…—sandollars

The design is pretty, but when you dumb down what you’re seeing, it’s almost what we have today, just more spaced out and prettier. It’s not a better design, it’s a prettier design. — inhalingsounds

The problem with trying to redesign reddit is that it’s already highly usable and readable and on top of that users have had over 6 years to engrain that design into their heads, so even if you did improve it you’d have to get around a lot of inertia in the user base. The majority here (as in reddit as a whole) don’t want or care about having a pretty design, they just want an efficient layout with the right tools in the right place that lets them do what they come here for — consume information and post the occasional comment.— ggitaliano

There is something to be said in the fact that I can read 4 headlines in the space of your 2. Folks are slamming through the headlines at a lightning pace and that fact should be accounted for. — wastinshells

When I visit Reddit, I speed browse a lot and consume large amounts of content. I select content I’m viewing fast and open several windows, though even if I went one by one, this wouldn’t last long in this sort of low contrast setting. While pleasing for a temporary view, you’re not imposing any rhythm I can follow, nor making it easy for me go through large amounts of content.—HAT_MADE_OF_FROGS

Many believe Reddit’s successful in part because it looks crap and puts off many potential — for lack of a better word — childish users. Compared to most of the web reddit is mature for the size of it’s user base and I think the design helps keep it that way.—JSmithphotography

I like the design a lot, but could you imagine the backlash a redesign of this level would cause? Thousands complained when the font size of comments was increased by a single pixel a few months ago. — del_rio

I really like the design you made, but for some reason, it just seems very fashionable. And with all fashionable things, it eventually goes out of fashion. It feels almost too modern, not a design that would last for a long time. Maybe it’s the choice of typeface (alternating between rounded and sharp) but it just seems like it is trying to check all the boxes of the web design.— fernald-abreu

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