Pandora has always had a generally simple and clean online look. Your playlists were in a right-nav menu and the music tracks streamed across the center of the screen. But in a major relaunch of the site, the users of the streaming music service on iPad may find something very familiar about this look and feel. Yup, it seems to be the spitting image of the iPad app in portrait mode. Now the user's playlists occupy a long list that ends in a square rich ad unit at the bottom left. And the main real estate of the page is filled with content. On the Web, however, Pandora leverages that right column for a large skyscraper or multiple stacked squares. And the full page can change color to match the featured ad.
Pandora has rewritten the website in HTML5 both for the benefit of users and for advertisers. "All the great advertising options enabled by HTML5-based site redesign lets us execute even more creative and targeted ads at a scale with highly measurable results for our partners," CRO John Trimble says in a statement accompanying the release.
One benefit of HTML5 is easier integration of mobile and online platforms for ad campaigns. Now with a similar look and feel across devices and the Web, at least one ad unit appears in the same place on tablet and site. The site also has a similar full-screen video experience to mobile. Now you get a full-screen overlay that gives the ad a screen-filling share of view that most video advertising on mobile has always enjoyed. This may not be too small a thing. How many of us have clicked to another open window as distraction while a pre-roll runs on a site? While pre-rolls are not part of the Pandora repertoire, filling the screen with video likely enhances the chances a viewer will simply lean back and watch rather than scurry to switch to another window.
But perhaps the best mobile lesson Pandora on the Web has taken from its mobile cousins is its absence of clutter. While fairly streamlined as Web site go to begin with, the newer Pandora has more of the reserved, focused approach of the apps. You can still end up with a fugly stack of ad squares (Netflix atop Google text ads atop some online education ad). But in this iteration of the site, the ads feel more like snap-on and snap-off elements that behave themselves. And the design keeps the eye settled on a few key points in the experience. Call it the appification of the Web.