The devolution of usability

One of my hobbies is woodworking, and one magazine I liked a lot before it disappeared was Woodworking Magazine. Or rather it disappeared by merging with Popular Woodworking, to become Popular Woodworking Magazine. What is amazing is the website evolution, because normally websites improve over time. Not so in this case. The first image shows the webpage of Woodworking Magazine in 2005. This magazine had no ads, and its website reflects this with no ads, and a very clean front page. It is clear that the current issue is the main stay of the page. The webpage actually reflected the magazine, which also contained no ads.


In comparison, consider the Popular Woodworking site in 2005. It too depicted the current issue of the magazine, and was quite clean, even though there were some ads on the website. The information on the left side of the webpage is well organized, making it easy to find relevant information.


After the merger circa 2010, the website too evolved into a hybrid (shown here in 2011). The menu has transformed from vertical to horizontal, and a video stream has been added.


Finally a snapshot of the website from 2016. It is now an extremely busy website festooned with advertising.


Compare this to the Fine Woodworking website, which offers a much cleaner browsing experience. There are ads, but they are lower down, so as to not crowd out the content on the opening portion of the website. Everything is easy to find, and the use of whitespace makes things stand out.



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