Looks like ESPN has made a substantial change to their web site. (Seems pretty permanent, though they often run huge images for big events, and Sunday’s NFL conference championships qualify in that regard.)
The big change is the introduction of a huge horizontal visual (750 x 300, or 5:2 ratio) which dominates the top half of the screen. Numerous links, headlines, and media appear “below the fold,” with many of the page modules using Flash. It looks like they’re including some media that I’m not getting on Linux; yeah, MacOS shows some embedded movies. The RSS feed includes the headlines which appear on the middle right of the page, but not the main story or the features in the “Spotlight.” Interestingly, many of the RSS headlines differ slightly from the headlines which show on the page. Very odd; I wonder how the page is built, and why the “news” content is separated from features and other content—and why there’s no feed for the features, etc.
Top to bottom, the page is massive; it takes four full screenfuls to read on my 1152×864 screen. This is the biggest problem I have with the redesign; it’s very busy and very big. The page content is not so much designed as managed, with lots of borders and gridlines separating the viewport into separate areas.
Nerd-wise, they promise XHTML 1.0 Transitional but the page fails to validate, with some very simple mistakes, like a CONTENT attribute in a meta tag; that should be “content” (lowercase). The page is a whopping 140K, with a 23K style sheet and a bunch of external scripts. Well over a quarter-megabyte, and that’s without the media!
All in all, this isn’t as successful a change for ESPN as we’ve seen in the past. Hopefully they’ll tidy up over the next few weeks.
Update 1/21: the big visual is gone, and there are some tweaks. Now you can get RSS feeds for sections. But if anything, the absence of one major focal point makes the site less attractive.