Technorati has been redesigned, or realigned if you prefer. It’s gone a bit gradient happy but overall, it’s quite a pleasing visual aesthetic.
For some reason though, they’ve chosen to lock the pages into a fixed width of 1024 pixels.
Now, I understand the reasoning behind fixed-width layouts. I can see the justification for wide fixed-width layouts on content-heavy sites like A List Apart (even if I disagree with it). But forcing users of what is fundamentally a web app to set their browser to a certain width seems counterproductive to me.
The content on Technorati is user-generated. Usually, that user is me. It has my favourites, my watchlist, and my search terms. I should be able to interact with that content in my way.
This is something that, as with so many things, del.icio.us gets just right. Upcoming is on the right track too. These sites allow me to interact with my data without putting me in a straitjacket.
Flickr is still avowedly fixed but the image-based, rather than text-based, nature of the data I store there makes this somewhat understandable.
Now, don’t misconstrue this as a tirade against 1024 pixel wide layouts. The problem would still exist in an 800 pixel wide design. Choosing an arbitrary number of pixels in which to serve up user-generated content is the issue here. On the one hand, Technorati is a very Web 2.0 sort of site, based on user-generated distributed content and collective wisdom. On the other hand, its visual design is grounded in a very Web 1.0 idea of top-down control and inflexibility.
I like Technorati a lot. It’s come on in leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. I’d like to use it every day. I’m even willing to put up with the oversize ads. But I resent the feeling that I should adjust my browsing environment to the needs of the site, rather than the other way around.