Arsenal FC unveiled a new website this week, giving it a long overdue upgrade that also includes a new mobile optimised version.

An article announcing the redesign states that it came about after extensive research and feedback from supporters.

It is designed to give users “improved access to content providing insight into all aspects of Club life.”

I previously blogged about the poor usability of Premier League websites, highlighting Arsenal as a particularly bad example due to the confusing number of links to different sections across the top and left of the screen. The old homepage also displayed now fewer than seven banner ads.

The new version has a “clean, clear navigation and page design with a reduced number of tabs on the homepage to provide an easier way to navigate.”

Reflecting the fact that 20% of existing traffic is from mobile devices, the site is also optimised for smartphones and tablets. So, is it actually any good?

Homepage

The previous design was a cluttered mess that was almost impossible to navigate, so it wasn’t difficult for the new site to be an improvement.

It’s certainly much cleaner and easier to navigate, but I feel they could possibly have removed even more of the tabs.

Old homepage

The links at the very top of the screen also appear within the dropdown menus housed on the red banner, so the designers should have considered getting rid of them altogether.

That said, the white space between the sections is a nice change from the previous design and at the moment there are no flashing banner ads above the fold.

In fact the new design makes the site look as if it is built using responsive design, however it isn’t.

New homepage

Also, there are several nice features included lower down the homepage, including player and fan tweets, links to media reports about Arsenal, and the fan forums.

News pages

Arsenal has taken an interesting approach to its news page, displaying stories in chronological order by time and date so the newest post is always at the top.

This means it looks more like a Facebook timeline or Twitter feed than a traditional news site.

The top three stories are displayed at the top of the page, and there is also a ‘Most Read’ tool and tabs that filter by different topics, including team news and player tweets, but these still show items in chronological order.

Presumably the idea is to imitate the way people view content on social networks, and personally I think it works quite well. It allows you to dip in find the latest team news without having to navigate past a load of curated content, but the most popular stories are still easily visible.

Mobile site

Though the new site isn’t responsive, it is mobile optimised and quite easy to navigate. The dropdown menus have been removed from the main banner, which is a shrewd move, as they wouldn’t work on a mobile screen.

News pages also look great and are easy to read, while the chronological order of the articles feels natural on a mobile screen.

                      

There are, however, a few problems with rendering. On several pages the headings weren’t aligned correctly and in the news section some of the headlines didn’t appear at all.

These appear to be fairly basic errors, and presumably the site will be updated and fixed over time.

In conclusion…

Bearing in mind the dreadful usability of most Premier League club websites, it’s good to see Arsenal making a much-needed upgrade to its site.

The previous version was out-dated and painful to look at, but the new design solves most of these problems by stripping out unnecessary graphics and improving the navigation.

It’s also mobile optimised, which means the club can finally cater for the 20% of users who visit the site on mobile devices.

But there are still one or two issues with the new design. In my opinion there are still too many tabs at the top of the screen, and the dropdown menus contain a few too many options.

Similarly there are problems with rendering information correctly on the mobile site.

Overall, among all Premier League clubs I think Manchester City has the most usable site, but Arsenal’s new design is definitely a vast improvement on the old version – and about time too.