No, that’s not a shot of the new website for the epically successful Penny Arcade empire, that’s what it looked like when I started reading it in high school. For being the vehicle that allows the world to view their comics, the designs have always swayed between ‘meh’ and ‘decent’. Today, the company unveiled the beta for their newest design (version 7.0 for those keeping track), so what does FleshEatingZipper’s resident Penny Arcade fan think? Take a look inside…
The new design was actually hinted at by a secret redesign of the Penny Arcade store a few months back and it made good strides toward improving what’s wrong with the current site, because the current site is awful. It’s easily the worst of their designs. They traded vibrant oranges and blues for grays and whites, shrunk many of their buttons to microscopic icons with pixel-level, block fonts that felt like a throwback to turn-of-the-century/Newgrounds fringe styles. Obviously, they have nowhere to go but up and with far more feathers in their cap now, they need a new site to control your access to all that content.
So let’s bring up the new one! TL;DR: I like it.
A: I like the new shading of the logo. It makes the whole thing feel brand new, pristine condition, like a bright, golden age DC-style superhero. On the flip side, I’m not liking the shift in size on hover over. It’s very old school, ditto with the graphic ‘glow’ under the top menu buttons when hovering over them.
B: I love the new buttons up top that break out the big sections of the site, the color coordination of orange against the blues works great. I’m so glad they didn’t bring over the ‘pull down’ effect on hover over from the store. For whatever reason, the alt captions kept flying as I moved my mouse over the row (as you see above), which was annoying. I love the grid layout of the page and how various functions, edges, and headers line up perfectly.
C: It seems inevitable that with Penny Arcade branching out and doing their little projects that they adopt a full masthead feature/rotisserie block to show off the new hot content on the site without merely mentioning it in their posts. It works, having been borrowed from their own Penny Arcade TV page.
D: It’ll take a little getting used to not having Jerry’s commentary being first and foremost, but this brings them closer to the realization of a front page that transcends the original message: to just write a bunch of words about the day’s comic. Had the Twitter tags been added a year or two ago when both Jerry and Mike were struggling with how to use it, I’d say it would’ve been tacky, but the addition of the social media elements here is awesome and works even better in the comic page, which we’ll get into later.
E: Lots of potential here, but c’mon, a newsletter? Ads? Where’s the Guestbook and page counter?
The comic view hasn’t changed much but there are some highlights:
– The double navigation panels above and below the strip are holdovers from previous designs and completely unnecessary. You need roughly half that many. Again: the addition of social media/sharing stuff is sick, saving me from having to copy and paste URLs.
– The footer is gorgeous, I love it. What was once crammed up top is now a lovely set of monochrome logos with their own space. The featurettes above are taken from their last design and they still work here.
So yeah, nitpicks aside, I love it. One huge opportunity the site faces is the lack of a mobile-friendly site or even an app. I’m sure something’s in the work for us to enjoy some day, but scrolling around on a phone is not fun.