When blog network Gawker Media announced last year that it would be completely redesigning its portfolio of media properties--which include Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, and the namesake Gawker.com--it created a wave of banter in the media industry. With only one story fully highlighted on the front page and a frame serving up alternate stories' headlines, Gawker honcho Nick Denton is steering the company into a theoretical post-blog age.
But, when the redesign went live on several Gawker properties Tuesday, there were still a few surprises to the notably tablet-friendly experience. For one, Gawker sites have now completely eliminated the buttons that let readers share a headline on Twitter or StumbleUpon, winnowing the options down to Facebook alone.
Facebook is "by far the biggest social source of traffic for us," Denton told the New York Observer via e-mail, adding that he found the smattering of other buttons to be cluttery. "These sites festooned with social media buttons--they look like primitive tribesmen clutching pathetically onto shiny baubles they believe to the symbols of modernity," he added to the Observer.
Denton is a proud contrarian, but even his critics admit he's been spot-on correct on occasion--like launching the original Gawker Media titles in the first place long before most people had ever heard of a blog.
It probably isn't necessary to take a single publisher's removal of Twitter buttons from its sites as a sign that Twitter's shelf life has been shaved down, but it's an interesting glance at one company's belief in what drives traffic and what doesn't--and perhaps what it believes its priority audiences are more likely to be using.
For Facebook, it's a nice minor victory. The social-networking site has been plotting to creep further into the world of mainstream digital media, like Monday's revelation that it will be launching a new product for third-party publishers that want Facebook-powered comments.