Design Notes from the NY Times
The NY Times has posted an interesting interview with Design Director Khoi Vinh, who discusses some of the more obscure/hidden aspects of the Gray Lady's online presence. One of the things that's always struck me about nytimes.com is its choice of a large-ish, serif'd font - something about that choice has always seemed a bit anachronistic, but also very distinguished. Vinh, on font choice:
I think what we do differently from any number of other sites, whether established news organizations or young companies, is that we very expressly try to maintain continuity with a brand that’s over 150 years old.
In other words, the history and the dignity of the New York Times' brand informs the shape of the online version, even as the designers are constantly thinking about what's possible online that isn't possible in print. The history of the paper is a constraint, but constraints can be good.
Also interesting were Vinh's comments about the power of hand-editing the site's code with tools like TextMate - even the designers. The usual distinction is that developers use text editors while designers use WYSIWYG tools like Dreamweaver. Here at KDMC, I've been making the case that everyone involved in web publishing can benefit by becoming comfortable with HTML and CSS.
Finally, I appreciated Vinh's acknowledgement that design work is never finished - there is no "set it and forget it" mentality regarding the appearance and behavior of the site:
We're always looking at ways to improve various sections of the site, tweaking our templates, adding new features and tools and removing impediments to people's consumption and use of the news.
Every publication has a history. How can your web staff simultaneously honor and push the envelope of that history?