Web Critique #11: Polygon.com

by Inspiredology

on November 21, 2012

in Web Critique

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Web Critiques is a take on examining a current piece of web art and breaking it down. We show off the good, the bad, dos and dont’s, why and how it works (or doesn’t), and the list goes on.

With every Web Critique we choose to focus on things that are relevant to the website and how they’re trying sell their brand while pushing a website that is product-centric, functional, and looks great.

As a gamer, I am always on nonstop watch for the next best gaming website to deliver my ever soaking appetitte of game information. If you don’t know already, I am a bit of a game enthusiast, though I don’t get to play as much as I’d like. We’ve looked at Gears Of War artwork and a somewhat recent For Your Inspiration of game trailers.

The great grid design that breaks in and out of boxes with images and then narrows with text, is an oceanic wave of grace; these pages are flat out awesome.

So after reviewing The Verge in our very own Web Critique, I got pretty excited when they announced Polygon; knowing they’d bring the same type of high quality editorial and web design to the internet—and they didn’t disappoint.


There is no real easy way to present information on the web that stays relevant with the plethora of news that comes flying our way. While we only disliked The Verge’s, somewhat, over saturated use of news spots, Polygon refines this formation. Polygon brings a similar style and color scheme as its older brother, but brings it down a size that is easier to swallow.Web Critique: Polygon.com

Polygon’s branding is not hard to spot. They do a great job of leveraging their style to complement their layout, using repetition as a way of solidifying all of their content. But like The Verge, it isn’t the easiest to navigate—a gripe I am sure I am not alone in. There is better organization, but it is hard to know what you are looking at and finding the most relevant or new article can sometimes be a lesson in patience, often scanning the same images over and over again. Below is how the typical eye is likely to traverse their page and content.

Web Critique: Polygon.com

Most of this goes well and flows pretty logically. Left to right or right to left, you ideally want to control the eye in a “Z” motion to get the most out of your multi-column layouts/content. It isn’t until we hit the three columns of articles does it get confusing; without thinking of the dates of the articles, its hard to focus on one piece of content (something The Verge struggled with as well). At the 3 columns, the content subheadings are so small that you don’t know what to see first; the eye finds the image and moves to content then bounces up to see the categorical information, giving you this bouncing overly dynamic visual path and gets worse as you move further down with more content. I spoke with one member of the Polygon team regarding this issue on twitter, and they told me that the order of articles are not by date, but ordered in perhaps a more SEO mindset.

Web Critique: Polygon.com

While Justin McElroy makes a strong point about their navigation options under the navigation bar, it isn’t two things: obvious and relevant. Relevancy depends on if you know what you’re looking for and if you’re looking for new news, you may find yourself trucking through the muck you may have already read to find the new content (since it isn’t ordered based on date). Below is one of the propositions I proposed to help organize the content:

Web Critique: Polygon.com

This really simple change organizes content based on date and time and adds large subheadings for easier navigation. This idea needs more research, as I wouldn’t know why they are ordering content as they are. The big part: the subheadings. These subheadings make it a natural transition from top to bottom, then left to right. We are using size and color to attract the initial attention of the eye. This also helps with letting the user quickly aware if this is the content relevant to them (one of the quarrels of the navigation bar).

Where the Getting Gets Even Better

Just like The Verge, Polygon has never ending scrolling—a tactic I much enjoy. While I love a great footer, I enjoy being able to scroll to my hearts content to find information I am looking for, something I am also used to from using tumblr on a daily basis. This is an effective way of sharing large amounts of content, and content that is continually updating. But, all the good things don’t amount to a really special page that they have got going—Game Reviews.

Web Critique: Polygon.com

These are the Polygon bread and butter, and man are they gorgeous. Incredible use of page layout coupled with excellent typography only accentuates the games they are showcasing, working as a beautiful marriage of editorial and game graphics. This a strong area that Polygon recognizes a lot of attention goes into, and much like the games they review, the review pages are built like a piece of art. The great grid design that breaks in and out of boxes with images and then narrows with text, is an oceanic wave of grace; these pages are flat out awesome.

Final Thoughts

Polygon.com is a great site where one flaw does not outweigh all the great things it does right. From industry setting layout in both game reviews and their homepage, Polygon is on its own level; The Verge is a year behind. Not to be outdone, Polygon has built their infrastructure on a responsive design that isn’t as ground breaking, but looks and works great too.

Web Critique: Polygon.com

Your Turn

The idea here is to take real world examples and explain what we think were the design decisions and share those thoughts. This is a great way for novice and veteran designers to find things to debate and hopefully learn from.

We also want to encourage user submissions—break down a fan’s portfolio or website—submit it and we’ll take a look. Recommendations or suggestions just send us a tweet @inspiredology,@MikePuglielli, or email me.


What do you think of Polygon’s site?


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