A look behind the scenes of the Publishing 2.0 design
When Scott and I were discussing the redesign of the Publishing 2.0 blog we knew we had to pay homage to the amazing changes happening in the publishing world. We saw the traditional stronghold of newspapers and big media being challenged by the voices of the everyday person on his or her own blog. Anybody with a passion or a purpose could start a web site and tell the world their ideas and if they did so vividly or continuously enough they just might build up an audience of influence. This fascinated both Scott and me, and we’re still amazed at the result: a continuing publishing upheaval in social, economic and political terms.
A Bigger Picture
But we also realized that we were within a much larger revolution that is the Web itself. At first we were excited about all that was happening in the last year or two, but we became convinced that the last decade and a half was one of the most amazing times in History. We felt lucky to be a part of that, and it was clear that we needed to show some evidence of that in the design. Nothing outlandish. Just a small nod to the amazing times we live in.
To that end, we came up with this set of icons:
As you can see, we ended up incorporating some of the most primary publishing mediums that humans have used from paper scrolls to amazing new hand-held devices like the iPhone. These are primary artifacts of publishing over the last two millennia.
The Feel of Newspaper
One challenge of the design was to evoke the feeling of that Publishing 1.0 stalwart, the newspaper, while at the same time living in the present Publishing 2.0 world as a blog. To do this we integrated some newspaper-inspired elements like a strict black text on a white background theme and a multi-column layout. But we also made sure to keep the most useful standards from the Web like a horizontal navigation bar, full-featured comments (of course), and a well-stocked footer.
We thought long and hard about what typeface to use for the masthead. We tried many different typefaces, some bold and modern and others staid and traditional. None of them really caught our fancy. So instead of continuing to shoot for a particular look, we started from the other end. We asked, what typeface would best represent a revolution in publishing? What typeface would fit in the masthead of Publishing 2.0?
The solution was easy at that point. The typeface would be Baskerville, modeled after the designs of John Baskerville, a visionary typographer and printer whose attention to detail and innovative typefaces changed the publishing industry in the mid 1700s. Baskerville exaggerated the contrast between the thick and thin parts of the letters to the outrage of many, who claimed they were extremist because of their departure from the typographical norms of the day. (this contrast is most easily seen in the letter U). As History would have it, Baskerville’s work endured, ushering in the transition to the modernist movement, marking an important point in the evolution of publishing. Needless to say, Baskerville was perfect for the job of the Publishing 2.0 masthead!
The other fonts we used for the design are Georgia and Verdana, two mainstays of the Web developed by Matthew Carter. They are two exceptional screen fonts, to be read with ease on computer monitors as well as hand-held devices.
Customized WordPress Install
The design of the site goes beyond the look and feel to how it actually works. We used several WordPress plugins to add functionality where appropriate, including the ability to subscribe to the comments of a post. This allows readers to follow a conversation along from start to finish, notifying them that new comments have been added. It is a testament to the power of blogs and open-source software developers that these plugins were available for us to use. They include Alex King’s Share This and Rob Marsh’s Similar Posts.
The Rise of Social Media
I remember when Scott started blogging, and boy was he controversial! He immediately raised the ire of bloggers everywhere by challenging us to be as good as journalists, something he thankfully continues to this day. But while he was challenging bloggers, he was also becoming one. A really good one. I’m honored to be part of the continued change.
Joshua Porter – Bokardo Design – August 2007