Steve Smith of Minonline is all excited over the redesign of Cosmopolitan.com, praising its "magazine-like look" and "lighter, less cluttered feel." But is Cosmo online really an awesome new experience?
Smith is particularly into the new navigation bar, which offers "illustrated links into specific features and popular articles rather than generic links into subsections." True, the new pulldown menus offer pictures and links to stories Cosmo's currently pushing. Take the Celebs & Style menu:
Pretty flashy. But when you click through to the swimwear story, you get the same lame "best swimsuit for your shape" advice that's in every magazine every summer — except even more repetitive. The story is basically a slideshow of bathing suits ranging from okay to hideous, many of them with the same exact caption: the words, "If you're small up top, flaunt what you've got with a foxy style that will make your twins the main attraction," for instance, appear four times. I don't even want to hear my breasts referred to as "my twins" once.
The featured article under Secrets & Advice, 40 Ways to Survive Any Sticky Situation, is pretty standard Cosmo fare. Advice ranges from the uninspired (if you get laid off, start looking for another job) to the bizarre (are penile fractures really common enough that the Cosmo reader needs a detailed game plan in case of one?). For extra annoyance, though, the feature includes a tacked on webvertorial called "Plan B Summer Tips," in which the makers of everybody's favorite emergency contraceptive explain how to combat tan lines and frizzies. What's next, makeup tips from Mirena?
It's true that, as Smith points out, users can now access Cosmo's "Hot Right Now" articles from the interior pages as well as the homepage. But when those articles are things like "10 Summer Truths You Can't Ignore," (sample truth: use bug spray) do you really even want to? Cosmo's redesign does look kind of nice initially, but further investigation is repeatedly rewarded with annoyance. And ultimately, the new site reveals a sad truth of web design, not just in summer but year-round: no layout will make up for crappy content.