Reviewing a website design: old vs. new

This is a study of website redesign, comparing the new with the old.
Wenceslao Almazán website old:
Wenceslao Almazán website new:

I prefer the new design to the old one. At first sight, I thought the new design made the website more dynamic and fancier, but sacrificed usability. But after playing with both sites for a while, I changed my idea. The new version not only provides more fun, but also is easier to navigate (for me).

The old website lists categories and links in aligned manners. All the major links are listed at the left or bottom, and the animated gimmicks are used only as playful accents, not as the major navigation scheme. However, after viewing some of the links, I found the old website hard to use for the following reasons:

* Everything is compact (nice), including the letters and portfolios (not nice). I started to look closely, leaning on the display of my laptop.
* There is no way to control the animation – do I have to watch the whole loop each time?
* I couldn’t find the ‘back’ button to the main menu easily.

The new website looked too random, too interrupting on the surface: but I found its navigation scheme is consistent, actually.

* Because the portfolio presentations do not jump to different page structures, navigating the website and finding the ‘hidden’ button became fun – because I was sure I won’t get stuck in one place.
* I could control the animation and also watch the overview of each of his portfolio category.
* I no longer had to squeeze my eyes to read the texts and view his works.

I think the artist wanted to create a website that is fun to be around, and he did it brilliantly without sacrificing usability. He even considered conservative users: the good old text links are also available at the bottom.

I do think functional-wise, the old website was better. But I also think functionality (or usability) should be the one to support the design (the main message), not the other way around.