Happy Cog redesigns Advertising Age

Happy Cog’s redesign of Advertising Age, the leading journal of the advertising profession, debuted on Sunday 9 April 2006.

Along with a complete visual overhaul, the redesign included a restructuring and repositioning. In the past, the print magazine was Advertising Age and the website was, well, a website. But with this redesign, the full editorial experience of Advertising Age comes to the web.

In a welcome message, the magazine’s Scott Donaton writes:

For the first time ever, the full contents of the current issue of Advertising Age will be available online for subscribers on Sunday night, the day before the print edition hits newsstands and in-boxes.

Publishing is changing, advertising is changing, where people get their news is changing, and how publications earn their keep is changing. The journalistic enterprise is no longer one-sided: magazines, while remaining authoritative, must also listen to their readers’ voices — and readers want to know what other readers have to say. On top of all that, there were tough decisions to be made about free versus paid content.

Happy Cog worked closely and intensely with Advertising Age to solve architectural, design, and usability challenges. Considering the vastness of the undertaking (not to mention the fact that all of us are still figuring this stuff out) I think we did all right.

Thanks to Allison Arden and Jason Schmidt and their colleagues at Advertising Age for the opportunity, the thinking, and the support.

For Happy Cog: V.L. Bowls, Rob Weychert, Dan Cederholm, Erin Kissane, and Jason Santa Maria. You are all made of stars.

ALA 214: today’s talk, tomorrow’s interface

In Issue 214 of A List Apart, for People Who Make Websites:

Anonymity and Online Community: Identity Matters — John M. Grohol argues that the ability to post anonymous comments, though it invites free and uninhibited participation, can nonetheless be a web community’s worst enemy. Grohol outlines six steps to better online community.

Plus A List Apart is pleased to present Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing, a wee taste of Adam Greenfield’s new book (reviewed in these pages last week).

Posted from Atlanta.

Everyware

Adam Greenfield has written one of the most provocative books in years. If the right people read it, Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing may do for the coming, computerless computing interface what Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things did for design generally. Like Norman, Greenfield argues for good design not as an aesthetic issue but as an ethical and business imperative. There is an urgency and clarity to every word.

Everyware is both a prescription and a warning. Although films like Minority Report have made such ubicomp staples as the gestural interface look a bit silly, these kinds of interactivity are coming soon to a wall or object near you. Depending on who designs them and by what principles, they will work beautifully or badly. Everyware will enhance our lives by anticipating our needs or it will destroy our privacy — or both.

Besides Don Norman’s book, the other piece of writing I sometimes thought of as I read Everyware was Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Writing in 1937, Benjamin pondered what the existence of photographic reproduction did to the status of the unique work of art. If the Mona Lisa can be reproduced by lithography, what is the value of the Mona Lisa?

It’s not that Greenfield writes like Benjamin (he doesn’t). It’s that both writers see and can describe changes in the world to which their contemporaries are oblivious. Greenfield is a friend and former member of Happy Cog so I have an interest in seeing his book do well. But if I didn’t know him or couldn’t stand him I would still highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about how design and technology are shaping our time.

It’s a new morning in adland

Starting in April, The Morning News becomes the sixth card in The Deck, our targeted advertising network for creative, web, and design professionals. The Deck is all about cost per influence, and adding one of the best written, most consistent and entertaining sites on the web extends that influence considerably. Limited advertising opportunities are currently available April through July.

Unmixed

A few weeks back, Microsoft’s Robert Scoble invited me to join Bill Gates, Kelly Goto, Roger Black, Lynda Weinman and other luminaries at Mix 06, a Microsoft-hosted “72-hour conversation” that wraps today in Las Vegas. Purpose of event: to “mix the next web now.”

It was like receiving an invitation from the emperor.

You may think “Web 2.0” and the “next web” are meaningful, industry-shaping concepts, or you may view them as marketing spin. You may trust that Microsoft wishes to be a citizen of the emerging state or suspect that it wants to be king. Whatever you hope or fear, and whatever value you place on such gabfests, to participate would surely be to learn. Plus you’d get to rub elbows with pirates and pundits from Tim O’Reilly and Marc Canter to Molly Holzschlag and some of the big brains behind eBay and Amazon.

Yet after at least two minutes of agonizing inner debate, I declined Microsoft’s invitation. Timing, which is also the secret of comedy, was the problem. Mix 06 followed SXSW too closely. As a business owner, I could afford to stay away from my agency for one week, but not for two.

Although a lot of designers, writers, and technologists seem to have been able to hopscotch from Austin to Vegas without so much as checking their office mailbox, I couldn’t.

Here in New York City there were jobs to finish and meetings to attend. There were clients to see and accountants and attorneys to see and pay. In Las Vegas they might be polishing up HTML 6 or figuring out how to make readers write all the content and pay for it, but back in my studio I had voice mails and RFPs and PDFs and Photoshop comps to sort through. (Just like you!)

Eric Meyer, one of the smartest people I have ever known, is at Mix 06 and has recorded some impressions, the most designer-relevant of which concern how much more CSS work Microsoft plans to do on IE7. (Answer: none.)

There is also a photo of Eric Meyer excessively enjoying free Internet Explorer stickers and bottled water.

Simon St Laurent, another of the smartest people I have ever known, has written a next web column on why the XML web, semantic web, and services web haven’t happened yet (and may never) while AJAX/”Web 2.0″ has, kind-of. Reading Simon’s column might almost be as good as attending Mix 06.

And Tim O’Reilly has blogged what he was planning to talk about while sharing a stage with Bill Gates. (And if I were sharing a stage with Bill Gates you can bet I’d blog it, too. After all, here I am doing nothing and getting a nice post out of it.)

There’s also a post and video of the actual conversation between Bill Gates and Tim O’Reilly, although, oddly, the video is not in QuickTime format.

Tim O’Reilly starts the conversation by telling Bill Gates how a Tim O’Reilly blog post launched Web 2.0 and led thousands of people to buy and sell stuff. That is as far as I got watching the video.

I guess if you are talking to Bill Gates you have to tell him who you are, even if you are Tim O’Reilly.

Well, anyway, I didn’t go to Mix 06, so I have lost untold thousands of pundit karma points. But this morning I read Hippos Go Berserk! to my kid. And even though we have read that book together at least 562 times, she found it fresh and exciting and new. And so did I.

Good stories stay new.

Fascinating and industry-changing revelations are likely emerging from Mix 06. I’m a bit sorry to miss the first utterances of them. But however brilliant such revelations may be, and however far their ripples spread, my web will not change. Whatever the pundits and pirates may say this week, my web is about content.

No matter what’s said at any conference, my web will continue to be about good writing and good design. Because that’s what I care about. And your web is your web because you care about what you care about. And whatever that is, there’s plenty of it to be found or made on this big web we share.

No matter how many new marketing phrases and acronyms emerge (some even with concepts attached), and no matter how much money some people make or lose betting on them (and the choice of Las Vegas as venue is telling), what I value does not change.

And that’s what I learned at Mix 06.

Fine Corinthian Leather

Sophia Marie Dominey
A very healthy eight pounds, eleven ounces.
Dissecting The Process
or: How an A List Apart Illustration Comes Together, by the illustrator himself, Kevin Cornell.
simplifier lab
Phoebe Espiritu’s fine blog on the quest for simplicity and minimalism in design.
Rogue Librarian: SXSWi Takeaways
Carrie Bickner Zeldman’s writeup of her SXSW Interactive panel on Digital Preservation and Blogs. See also:
Digital Preservation Panel at SXSWi
Librarian Avengers’s notes on the same panel. See also:
Digital Preservation: What and Whom Are We Saving?
Bill Anderson’s notes on the same panel.
Vantan.org
Personal site of Vanessa Tan, devoted Netizen and musician, blogging from Singapore.
Aspen Design Summit
AIGA-sponsored retreat.
This is Powazek
Beauteous and well-written site of cofounder of JPG Magazine (and creator of bunches of other fab web content, none of which I need to tell you, ’cause you know)
Behind the WaSP Redesign
Designer Clarke discusses creative process. See also:
WaSP Annual General Meeting
Transcribed by Muffin Research Labs.
Does Your Blog Have a Business?
SXSW Interactive panel transcribed by Auscillate.com.
CSS Floatutorial
In CSS layout, float is all. Maxdesign’s step-by-step guide shows how to float elements such as images, drop caps, and next and back buttons to create image galleries, inline lists and multi-column layouts.
CSS Tweak
Now with in-page Help! Andy Peatling’s free web-based tool optimizes your CSS files. “It will take any CSS file and optimize the syntax, grouping your style declarations into shorthand where possible. It can also remove comments, and strip whitespace for maximum compression.”
A brief history of the “clenched fist” image
Like it says.
GrayBit v0.5 Beta
“GrayBit is an online accessibility testing tool designed to visually convert a full-color web page into a grayscale rendition for the purpose of visually testing the page’s perceived contrast.”
Interior Desecrations
Horrible home design from the classic halls of Lileks.
George Bush: I Don’t Know Much About Designing Rugs
In Design Observer.
Accessible Web Developers
A public group at ma.gnolia. Creating accessible (and mobile-friendly) sites.
Brit Pack
Proud members.
More Ma.gnolia Marks
See all 345 (and counting) of Apartness’s bookmarks.

SXSW III: Things That Were Said

  1. Jason Fried, the president of 37signals, had just finished speaking to an admirer.

    “It’s always guys,” he said wistfully of his fan base. “Never women.”

    Fried’s colleague, Jim Coudal, said, “Women come up to me all the time. They say, ‘oh my God, do you know Jason Fried? My brother LOVES him!’”

  2. Baby A__ , designer Jason Santa Maria and I were leaving everyone’s favorite egg-and-bean breakfast joint. We paused while Baby A__ and I negotiated the fine points of stroller and sippie cup maintenance.

    A guy with just a touch of yesterday’s ashtray about him, one arm draped over a parking meter, eyed Jason Santa Maria suspiciously.

    “You a Jew?” he asked.

    Somehow it didn’t sound friendly.

    Jason, who is of Italian American descent, answered truthfully in the negative.

    “Have a good day,” I said to the guy, pushing the stroller briskly out of his universe.

  3. A bunch of us had been dawdling in a sunbaked courtyard and now I was alone and late for the green room. Still wearing jet-black sunglasses against the Austin glare outside, I rode the long escalator through the airconditioned cool. Up, up, up.

    I was riding up. Others were riding down. My face was turned vaguely in the direction of the people coming down, but I wasn’t looking at them, and wouldn’t have recognized anyone through my dark glasses even if I had been paying attention to them.

    Suddenly, one of the people coming down was in my face, leaning across the up-down barrier to confront me.

    “Ya know me!” she shouted angrily. “I’m Mary! [Not her real name.]

    It took all of a cartoon moment. By the time I realized what had happened, Mary [not her real name] was twenty feet below me and about to turn onto a lower escalator.

    I could see by her gestures that she was furiously complaining to a companion about my perceived rudeness in not embracing her with flowers and song, or at least with a hello, as our bodies passed in the vast anonymous convention center space. That I might not have seen her hadn’t occurred to her.

    Off guard and off balance, I tried to rectify a social mistake I hadn’t made by calling down to her rapidly disappearing body.

    “Hi, Mary!” [not her real name] I trilled down the escalator, girlishly waving a hand in her direction. My voice was chirpy and strange to me, my gesture artificial and nanocenturies too late.

    So now there are two dolls in hell.

    There’s the Mary doll [not her real name] that breathes dragon fire and roars, “Ya know me! I’m Mary!

    And there’s the Jeffrey doll, waving girlishly down the vastness of an endless escalator shaft.

Fresh outta beta

When I was younger, I considered myself too “creative” to work on anything that wasn’t cool or exciting. Eventually I buckled down and became a genuine client services professional. For over two decades, I brought my best to every job, no matter how dull.

So much for that. Today I can choose what I want to work on. And I choose projects that are cool, fun, and personally meaningful. In that context, I link to Ma.gnolia.

Designed by Happy Cog and taken out of private beta 15 February, Ma.gnolia is a new social bookmarking tool with well-thought-out features like Saved Copies (so you never lose a web page, even if it moves or goes offline), Bookmark Ratings, Bookmark Privacy, and Groups. Not to mention a Linkroll I like so much I use it here at zeldman.com.

Gnolia Systems envisioned the product and made it run. (The heavy programming? That’s all them.) Happy Cog developed the user pathways, brand identity, and creamy site design. The best part? Leading a dream team of Tanya Rabourn (information architect), Greg Storey (user interface design), Jason Santa Maria (brand identity design), Erin Kissane (brand director), and Mr Eric Meyer (semantician and technologist).