The death of the boring blog post?

Let’s face it: the classic blog post is boring.

Barring the text and images, each one generally has the exact same layout. We see little originality from one post to the next. Of course, consistency and branding are extremely important to consider when designing a website or blog, but what about individuality? Does a blog post about kittens deserve the same layout as one about CSS hacks?

Standard Blogs in Death of the blog post

Too Easy?

Jason1 in Death of the blog post1

Because installing a WordPress theme is so easy, anyone can have a blog up and running in minutes. While this is great, and we now have a wealth of blogs on countless topics, perhaps it’s too easy? Just thinking about the endless hours of effort that a print designer puts into creating the custom layout of a magazine article makes one respect the finished product so much more.

A few individuals out there, though, are really breaking the mold of the blogosphere.

Dustin1 in Death of the blog post2

These guys aren’t using standard WordPress themes or cutting corners to make their lives easier. Rather, they are challenging themselves and producing some fantastic content.

Pushing yourself to create original layouts and designs customized to the content of each post is a fascinating and entertaining way to build a blog.

Greg1 in Death of the blog post3

But why has this trend of melding blog post and magazine article, the “blogazine,” not caught on with the masses?

The <cringe>Trend</cringe> with a difference

Hearing the word “trend” makes us designers shudder because we picture overused glossy buttons, drop-shadows and reflections. But the blogazine trend could be unlike other trends for a few special reasons. Designing a creative layout for each new blog post, based on the content itself, requires skill, patience, dedication to the content and, most of all, effort on the part of the designer!

Let’s now look at three people who exhibit all four qualities:

Pioneers Arrow in Death of the blog post

The Pioneers

Jason Santa Maria4

is one of the early innovators of this style of blogging and has been creating custom blog post designs since June 2008. With a background in print design, Jason had a vision to create a blog more in the style of a magazine, rather than obey the established rules of blog design.

While, yes, this is a redesign of sorts, I consider it much more a rethinking.

~ Jason Santa Maria

Jason Work in Death of the blog post5

Jason’s blog posts are fascinating and cover a wide range of topics, including design, typography, books, photography and film. The differences in the designs are sometimes just subtle changes in background or typography, but each conveys an entirely distinct message that it couldn’t if it was uniform with the rest.

Sometimes the changes are radical, but every one still has an element of “Jason-ness.” The header and footer are usually consistent, but even without them, you can still tell a Jason Santa Maria post from a quick glace.

We’ve made so many advancements in how we publish content that we haven’t looked back to what it is we’re actually creating. Many of us see the clear separation between things like print design and web design, but I’ve really been questioning the reality of why things are this way.

~ Jason Santa Maria

We Web designers don’t want to be regarded as lazy. Do we?

We have some of the

most creative and inspiring designers

in our profession, so why don’t we show our true potential in our blog articles?

Dustin Curtis6

got a lot of publicity with his open letter to American Airlines7, in which he suggests a dramatic redesign and rethinking of its online customer experience. The articles on Dustin’s blog are incredibly fascinating, and this user experience designer has clearly put serious thought into each one.

Dustin Airline in Death of the blog post8

I got the chance to speak with Dustin about his work:

Dustin Brain in Death of the blog post9
What prompted you to create a “blogazine” instead of a traditional blog?

I’m never satisfied with my work. Invariably, two weeks after finishing a design, I feel like I can do better. When I originally tried to design my blog, I kept finishing a design, hating it and starting over. This happened ten or twelve times until I finally gave up. Eventually, I realized that each post could stand on its own and be its own design that fit the content. Despite the holdbacks of HTML and CSS, it has worked much better than I had even anticipated.

Does having a blogazine really boost your creativity when it comes to creating a post?

The blogazine style does seem to boost creativity, and by a huge amount. I feel an intense amount of freedom when I’m not constrained by the box of a pre-formed design. I can open Photoshop and use it as a word processor with design functionality. The design really does complement — and become — the content, because they are built simultaneously, without regard for any of the other stuff on the website.

I feel an intense amount of freedom when I’m not constrained by the box of pre-formed design.

Dustin Twitter in Death of the blog post10

Where do you get your inspiration for your blog articles?

I get inspiration from everywhere. I’m fascinated by medicine and the human brain. So many of my articles center on interesting things that I’ve learned while studying neuroscience. Sometimes I’ll start with a single word, like “sleep,” and develop it into a whole article as I research the fringes of the field. There’s really no set source of inspiration.


The main advantage is one I didn’t anticipate. Doing a blogazine article requires a lot more work than a traditional blog post, and that has kept me on my toes; because such a large investment is required, I publish only what I feel are my best articles.

The biggest disadvantage is that CSS and HTML are terrible technologies that weren’t designed for page layout. They were designed for structured content presentation, like for a newspaper, where all the elements throughout the website are the same and are re-used. But I’m trying to make a magazine, where the content and presentation are inextricably mixed and unique. The way presentation CSS is supposed to be decoupled from the content HTML is totally counter to the mission I am trying to accomplish, and it makes coding the articles frustrating, messy and time-consuming.

This seems to keep the quality fairly high. I start four or five articles for every one I publish. If I had a normal blog, that wouldn’t be the case — the other four articles would be published too, even though they wouldn’t be as good as the ones I do end up publishing.

My solution to this problem has basically been to ignore convention and use inline styling for most of the presentation code and extract the website-wide presentation layer into a separate CSS document. This takes forever and is not ideal. To put it lightly, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with CSS.

What if a print magazine

used the same template for every article?

It would be pretty boring, no?

Gregory Wood11

is a website designer at Erskine Design12 and has created his website as an experiment in art direction. Not allowing himself to use the same old templates, Greg has created a fascinating website, with custom designs for each blog post.

Greg Work in Death of the blog post13

Here’s what Greg had to say when I spoke with him:

Greg Interview in Death of the blog post14
What prompted you to create a blogazine instead of a traditional blog?

Well, I’ve had a blog for ages and have always been bad at keeping it regularly updated, until I custom-designed a few of the posts sometime last year. I generally hate writing about Web-related stuff (I find it all a little boring), and I love designing, so I wrote about what I wanted (music and zombies) and designed each post around the content, although still housed in my old blog layout. The reception to the posts was really nice, and I enjoyed creating them, so for my latest website I set out to cater to that same audience and keep myself happily occupied at the same time.

Does having a blogazine really boost your creativity when it comes to creating a post?

I wouldn’t say it boosts my creativity; the website is more of an outlet for it. Despite spending all week being creative at Erskine Design15, it’s still quite liberating to design whatever you want, however you want, with no external influence.

Because it’s all nicely designed, readers are drawn in and end up reading more than one post.

Where do you get your inspiration for your blog articles?

Usually I think of my best ideas when cycling or sitting on a tram or bus. It’s been a big thing on the Web over the years, where you get your inspiration from, and I’ve never really understood it. I think that looking at other people’s work all the time for inspiration is massively constricting. I find staring out a window for a while usually helps.


The obvious advantage is that it looks better. But the content is infinitely more captivating as well. I’m not a great writer, and I probably write a lot of bullshit, but because it’s all nicely designed, readers are drawn in and end up reading more than one post. It’s also very fun to create and helps me grow as a designer.

I guess some would say the time factor is a disadvantage, but if you love doing something, spending a lot of time doing it is justified.

I can’t think of any disadvantages.

The Microblogging Revolution

Twitter16, Posterous17, Flickr18, Facebook19, the iPhone20 and countless other services make it incredibly easy for us to instantly post short musings, photos, video, thoughts and creations, which in turn has created a big gap between the micro post and the macro post.

Time for the macro post to shine

Longer blog posts with valuable content might not get the recognition they deserve, because the 140-character mindset turns people off of reading several pages of text. One way to combat this and make your content more appealing is by creatively altering the layout, using the blogazine technique.

Bridging the gap

We don’t know exactly where the world of blogging is headed in the next few years, but the increase in micro-blogging will definitely be a strong influence. Shorter attention spans call for drastic changes to the length of blog posts. Blogazines could cater to a generation accustomed to the longer articles of newspapers and magazines, becoming a bridge between the traditional article and the TwitPic.

Forces you to think more creatively

Slipping into the habit of typing up your thoughts and clicking “Post,” without thinking about the layout of each article, is easy. By taking a little extra time for the art of blogging, your creativity will increase with your efforts.

Something different and exciting for your readers

If .Net21 or Computer Arts22 printed every article with the same layout, every month, would you still subscribe? Your readers would more likely return for new articles if they anticipate something new and rewarding.

Reduces the number of short simple posts

Your blog posts will have much more weight if you take the time to create a full article, rather than knock of a rushed post.

Makes wordy posts more readable

If all you have is text, text, text, then people will be less likely to read it. Put a little effort into styling the content, and your post will become much more readable.

It takes serious effort

Hand-crafting each blog post won’t be easy, but the rewards will be well worth it.

You need CSS and HTML experience

Anyone can download a WordPress theme and merrily post an article. But building a custom layout requires some experience with CSS and HTML.


The layout of your blog will change dramatically from post to post and, if not done right, may strike your readers as being awkwardly inconsistent. Just look at Jason Santa Maria’s work. Every post is radically different for a reason, but a consistent vein runs through the posts.

No print layout experience

Because this style borrows many elements from print design, anyone who has worked only in Web design may find it difficult to change their way of thinking. Rules of typography and white space, for example, may throw you off. But practice makes perfect, and an endless supply of inspiration can be found in creative magazines.

Foryou Question in Death of the blog post

Obviously this style isn’t suitable for every website. It wouldn’t be practical for blogs that pump out three or four articles a day, but certain types of websites could benefit from it especially.


We have a habit of following trends very easily, especially in our portfolios. Instead of following the tired old practice of positioning screenshots of your work in a nice grid one after the other, why not use the blogazine technique and design a fresh page for each project according to the subject, client and color scheme?

Online Shops

Many online shops suffer from a certain blandness, following the pattern of: thumbnail grid, name, short description and then pagination.

This layout may be good for usability, but there is a middle ground between scannability and visual appeal.

The design changes do not have to be dramatic. In fact, drastically changing the layout would not be advisable for online stores.

But perhaps even subtle changes to design elements could give your online shop the distinction that makes it more noticeable?

CSS Galleries

A new CSS gallery seems to pop up every day, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between all of them. While some of the higher-profile examples like SiteInspire23 are fantastic for gaining inspiration, the constant influx of CSS galleries makes the inclusion of your own design in one of them somewhat less of an achievement.

It would be interesting to see a really high-class CSS gallery adopt the blogazine technique, with a custom page made for each worthy website, using large high-quality images instead of the typical screenshots.

The websites in a CSS gallery are not all about the same topic and do not have the same style or same content, so why should they receive the same treatment and same type of screenshot?

Merely for consistency?

Think about a painting that is worthy of being displayed in an art gallery. Should it be given the same treatment, cut to the same size, positioned the same way? Why do we treat gallery-worthy websites this way, then?

Quiet Blogs

Bloggers often lack the motivation to keep their blog running. Many of them feel they have to keep it fresh by updating it every day, and failing to meet their own expectations results in both frustration and a neglected blog.
Updating a blog daily isn’t ideal, and more often than not…

seven half-hearted articles a week does not equal one very polished, interesting article.

RSS readers are jam-packed with articles every day, and chances are, the articles that don’t get your full attention will get lost in the crowd. Keep your short musings and thoughts for Posterous and Twitter, and spend some real time hand-crafting well-thought-out articles. You’ll satisfy both yourself and your readers.

Look at Jason24, Dustin25 and Greg26. They do not blog that often: sometimes once a week, sometimes once a month. But the quality is always stellar.

Conclusion Title in Death of the blog post

You have endless possibilities to be more creative with your blog. Why stay tied down to one theme and one layout when you can experiment with your skills and push your creativity to its limit with a blogazine? With the Internet suffocating with blogs, people have developed incredibly short attention spans, and they probably won’t stop for your content if you have “just another blog.”

Why not throw away the blogging rule book and make your articles stand out from the crowd?

Paddy Donnelly46 is an irish UX designer, blogger47 and interviewer48 living in Belgium. He’s currently working on his own Blogazine49 and you can follow him on Twitter50

Fin in Death of the blog post


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  1. 1

    This was a good article, and it does provide food for thought. In the iPhone era, we’re seeing that you can still post content for free online but charge for the experience layer. Think CNN iPhone’s app. Same content, portable, excellent experience.The blogazine format is another way of adding a better experience to the act of consuming 2-D content.

    I have to imagine that’s exactly why the magazine format was invented in the first place: newspaper just became too standardized and predictable and really didn’t allow for hot hancrafted infoporn created with time, energy, and craftsmanship.

    Its a good variation of a medium to explore. I think we might have figured out exactly what a blog can and can’t do just like we know what a newspaper, radio, and traditional television set can and can’t do. There could be hidden value here. As the article states, it’s too easy to set up WordPress these days. You can’t sell a blog CMS to anyone except those also looking to purchase a decent suspension bridge (if you are, call me, btw). But I see a niche market for well-designed blog posts.

    Those bashing the format, especially without explaining themselves (“This post is BORING!”) are short-sighted and narrow-minded. This is standards-based design _coming of age_. This so far beyond rounded corners.

    But I have two critiques of this post. For one, the title is pure sensationalist linkbait. Blog posts are not dying anytime soon. Second, this article is clearly designed for the MacBook Pro crowd. I’m using a MacBook Pro, so I don’t mind. I’d say the right rez to keep in mind for a wider audience comfortable with this design approach is probably 1280 x 800, 13″ MacBook rez. If we want this to catch on, we should probably show how good it can look for the common web news consumer.

    But there’s something here. This article is insightful. It picked up on a meme we all knew was there but didn’t really take the time to dissect. Best content I’ve seen on Smashing in a long time.

  2. 102

    Maybe someone at SM should have a look at And then re-write this article in 400 words so no-one else wastes their morning on it. Also: completely disagree with the portfolio uniqueness suggestion. And can we just say “online magazine” instead of “blogazine?”

  3. 203

    Finally something different. I’m getting very tired by all the ’50 great patterns for webdesigners’ articles.

  4. 304

    Giles Van Gruisen

    November 19, 2009 8:08 am

    Yes yes yes, a thousand times YES!!!!! I will be doing stuff like this from now on. Incredible article, truly inspiring!!! :D

  5. 405

    Design is nice, but it should ACCENT your content.

    Honestly, I didn’t even read the entire post here. I think if an author wants readers to actually READ what they have to say, it should be presented in a visually appealing, but easy to understand way.Maybe you mentioned that. I wouldn’t know because I didn’t read it all. Reading a blog post shouldn’t feel like running a marathon.

    Still love Smashing Magazine though. :)

  6. 506

    Well, I might come back to this on a computer
    but what hell to read on a mobile phone!! That should be one of the main considerations in designing a “blogozine” these days. I had to move all over the place to try to read this and it was hard to tell what images went with what content.

  7. 607

    In consideration of how much I love the examples provided here, this is definitely a route I’d be interested in trying for my site. I get the same “redesign syndrome” as mentioned in the article where I’ll want to start all over again just as I’ve finished a site.

    That being said, I believe at the forefront of my mind when making design decisions about posts would be if the page is readable. We can see in the comments here that there is a very fine line with this style between pure awesomeness and pissing people off.

  8. 708

    Amazing post! I’m a big fan of both JSM and DC and have followed their blog…azines for a long time now. This post is one of those I get inspired from and encourages me to really pay attention to “contextual design”.

    Most of the comments, on the other hand, can be really discouraging. I have a hard time paying attention to comments that imply this is an unusable post or badly designed, coming from people who have no authority on this matter… AT ALL. I want to give the proper kudos to Paddy for this awesome design and recognize the hard work and effort he has put into this. Also, thank SM for letting him post it… ;)

    Good job guys and, even if it’s not possible to turn SM into a “blogazine” (completely understandable), I’d like to see a “featured” or “monthly” article done this way… It could very well be the only article I read (instead of skimming) on your site the whole month… ;)

  9. 809

    Any EE users out there with ideas of how to make this style work in that system?
    I’m thinking a custom field for the CSS path.

  10. 910

    Nice try !
    Uniformity, functionalism must be a graphic and conceptual choice, not a mandatory Stantard.
    This article challenges many of formatted use.

  11. 1011

    Awesome. I loved it.
    Quite inspiring but the question is indeed if you
    will be able to find the time to make only such
    great designed posts.

  12. 1112

    Man, this is the Smashing blog post ever! I am very much inspired to create something like this!

  13. 1213

    I’ve always been a fan a plain good writing.

    I enjoyed your post, but it reminds me of when Wired magazine first started publishing. It broke all the rules about layout and color and fonts, and it was kinda cool and interesting. But it was difficult to read. It was like going to a circus where all the acts came out at once and each distracted from the other.

    I enjoyed the creativity. But sometimes I want to read a well-written, informative, entertaining post that doesn’t keep distracting me with color and layout options.

  14. 1314

    Inspiring yet equally headache inducing. Might take a while to get used to. No worries, i’m adaptable.

    Love SM !

  15. 1415

    Wow… I don’t know about anyone else here, but I really like this article lay out. It keeps your eye moving and motivates you to keep scrolling as you read. It was very well thought out and I’m glad that Smashing Magazine is experimenting with alternate article layouts. Well done, guys :)

    Reminds me of The Oatmeal posts.

  16. 1516

    Another blog post that is wholly impractical when applied to real-world design problems encountered by working designers the world over. :x

    Content is king: A blog’s layout and design, while appealing (or not) does not make the blog itself interesting. The purpose of the layout is to help me read the content and navigate the site. The fun and interesting designs featured above smack of print-based design, lacking in meaningful interaction.

    Additionally, unique layouts make automation a practical impossibility. It’s fun to push the envelope in a blog (minor leagues), but that doesn’t apply well to real-world challenges I’ve met regarding publishing regular content for a number of employers.

    • 1617

      I disagree that this style is impractical. I think one of the problems with web design is that we have put to much focus on practicality and have removed some of the art and fun from editorial design. This over focus on automation and practicality makes the whole thing kind of boring, its like we are newspaper designers. I think this style is practical and very welcome for long well researched articles, it works for magazines and it could work for us too as a matter of fact I think its the missing link for moving our profession into the kind of recognition that it deserves. That said, of course this style won’t work for every site but it would be awesome for magazines transitioning to the web.

    • 1718

      If content is king, design FOR content.

      Besides, no one said this style was made for newspaper-style blogs. The idea is called “blogazine” and if you new anything about magazine design, you’d know that style can vary significantly depending on the content of an article. No automation implied.

      Please read the posts before replying, because otherwise you come across kinda weirdly. Thanks.

  17. 1819

    I’d have to say this was one of the most inspiring and interesting articles I have read. It is clearly a matter of opinion whether this style should be used more, based on the comments.

    I personally LOVE it! It was taking a visual journey through the page while reading it. Sort of like telling a story, and using different scenes and design elements as props to help convey the message.

    I am a huge fan of this style, and I can’t wait to see more.

  18. 1920

    Wow guys, that was an awesome article. I hope more people start creating more original blogs. Keep it up.

  19. 2021

    I love it but it would take too much effort to build a specific page for every post.

    But this is GREAT !!!!

  20. 2122

    Nothing else is better than Smashing Magazine. This is the smahingest post!

  21. 2223

    So there are alot of folks harping on about how content MUST be first, and the presentation is support, I think that in many cases, and of course depending on the goal of the site/article that the presentation drives the content. What I mean to say is, it´s no good having good content if no-one reads it, If I see a page of black default text on a white background with no styling, I’m probably not going to give it a chance, whereas interestingly presented, it grabs, AND HOLDS my attention until I get to the end and feel happy that someone gives a shit about someting other than “best practice” “conversions” “page impressions” and all that jazz.
    I for one am human.

  22. 2324

    Great job, Paddy.

  23. 2425

    I’d be afraid it would be used if you didn’t really want the reader to pay attention to the writing (I couldn’t finish the article myself). I’m not a great writer, so I could decorate my posts with something like this to keep the clicks coming.

    I suppose this particular post was exaggerated to make the article’s point. “Magazine Style” wouldn’t always be so nutty. The actual dustincurtis site (cited above) is an example of how, when restrained, the idea works. But why would readers of Smashing need an exaggerated example? It’s not like my mother reads this and needs to be convinced. Odd that Smashing though so…

  24. 2526

    I do like their work and this “anti” trend is becoming a new trend already, but you got one thing wrong: DCurtis and Greg (I think) don’t use WordPress at all. These are static HTML pages. And that fact basically answers your question why blog posts all look the same. JSM is an exception (he uses EE), but he only posts once a week or even less frequently.

    With current CMS it’s hard to realise such creativity. And if you are missing ALL the features of a “blog” you really can’t talk about this as a “new” way of designing blogs. ;-)

  25. 2627

    I thought this was really well thought out and executed. Yes, some people won’t like it, but that’s part of being human: we see things in different ways. Bravo for breaking the mould. Now watch for the imitators… ;)

  26. 2728

    Wooow! Awesome post, and nice work! That’s probably the best way to describe “blogazine”. I think design bloggers must think about this new blogging style, because that’s the better way to show your skills. Your blog is your portfolio. Stop writing to describe your design creations, design to describe your post content.

    I’ve already try to make “blogazine-like” posts, but I was tired of spending 7-8-9 hours to create my post. So I’ve stop it. But this post has motivated me to try it again!

  27. 2829

    When I stumbled on Gregory Wood’s post, I think it was the one about diving and how good it was.
    I was taken back by the sheer presentation of it, the detail, the images, typo, etc and thinking to myself how on earth he did that?.

    One thing I disliked about blogs is the churning out of dry templates. Yes you can argue that this breeds consistency and to be honest I originally thought this particular post was missing a style sheet because it appeared to be so different from other smashing magazine posts. But I soon got the hang of it and it was a pleasure to read. The first time I actually thought a post from you guys was worth reading.

    What’s sad is the amount of designers being so negative; its hard to read, it’ll take too much time to do, its not very accessible , etc-I’m sure there’s more examples if carried on reading peoples comments.

    Sometimes, just sometimes you think to yourself fook it! I’m doing what I want and that’s exactly they did. Not for one second do I think these web designers Jason, Greg and Dustin are lose much sleep because people cant view it right on their shitty little IBM ThinkPad or some kid in Africa cant get the same experience on his mobile phone. Yes it’s unfortunate but hey that’s life. I guess the most of you guys and girls who complained still lose sleepless nights supportng IE6.

    The thing is, they had a problem, they didn’t like the template of their blog so they changed it. They wanted to express themselves, and they did. They broke their constraints and guess what….they’ve possibly started something they didn’t mean too…a trend..So come on you sheep, come along and join us, join the heard..

  28. 2930

    Great post, and nice proof of concept. I’ve been considering doing something like this for a while, but polishing up on my CSS skills first. I think its a great way of experimenting with different styles and themes, which for me is one of the main reasons for having a personal site… it’s somewhere to experiment.

  29. 3031

    This is probably one of the best articles on SmashingMagazine. It was so unexpected too see this layout but I am pleasantly surprised! I love Jason Santa Maria’s blog and it is a great inspiration for redesign of my blog.

  30. 3132

    Whooooaaaaaa… if this is where blogs are headed, count me out. Unless I can read it from the safety of my RSS reader…

    I read lots of blogs and I love it (SM included) – but I only return based on the value of the content. I don’t give a rip about looks as long as usability has been thought-through.

    I can see how this could be inspiring for other designers – maybe it’s worth considering for visual-types, but I don’t think it’s worth getting too hot and sweaty over…

  31. 3233

    i like it! i usually dig websites with large fonts and images
    SM is probably the best design-related website on the web

  32. 3334

    The core idea is nice, but I found this article impossible to read. I kept skipping through several sections and had a really hard time reading while scrolling.

    On the other hand, I also hate many magazine layouts as they fuck up readability in the cruelest of ways.

  33. 3435

    “Just thinking about the endless hours of effort that a print designer puts into creating the custom layout of a magazine article makes one respect the finished product so much more.” A singular magazine article. That’s only feature articles. Magazines use stylesheets and a set of basic layouts for the majority of the content though including typography, column widths, placement on the page etc. When pubs don’t have set stylesheets and layouts, they look schizophrenic and amateurish. A unique layout is a wonderful way to treat a special article, but it should still flow with the rest of the publication (online, or off) while being distinct.

  34. 3536

    The web and print are two different mediums. While I admit there are places where we get lazy and could do more layout to make an article more interesting, I’m not sure that you should up change every page drastically for every post.

    This post, for example, made me think the CSS was broken or some of the background images haven’t loaded in because the header didn’t look like previous Smashing articles. You need some markers of similarity at least. A print magazine may standardize where the logo is on the cover and other layouts. The cover of a magazine is similar to the header of a blog.

    Plus navigation of a magazine is pretty standard. You turn pages. You need similar, easy to understand navigational metaphors for your site.

    Also, calling ordinary pages of text boring is kind of unfair. Not everyone is a designer. Sure the audience that reads this blog is, but not everyone on the web is. One of the best things about blogging and the Internet in general is that gives everyone, not just web developers and geeks, a voice. It also reminds us that layout makes content interesting, but the content is really what is important.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t put more effort into the layout of individual articles, but be aware of changing things that brand your site and navigation and visual ques that your users are familiar with.

  35. 3738

    While the post was “noisy” to say the least, and I was originally slightly bothered by the constant changing I found myself continuing to read and scroll.

    I think this post did a wonderful job on 2 counts. First it highlighted a number of different options that could be used to enhance an otherwise sterile repetition of a traditional blog post. I have a few current projects that will endeavor to incorporate some of the features/options.

    The second piece, it also shows what can happen when a site goes a little overboard. I have clients who consistently want to change font, font size, color and justification ever sentence. This post and the reactions above help show how confusing that can cause a page to be. This post shows a number of different options but each of the options maintains its own consistency of page which is critical for branding and marketing.

    Well done. I suspect the second was a happy accident and not intentional. If it was I once again bow to your thought and design processes.


  36. 3839

    Just one word: awesome. I agree with some posts saying that usual posts are boring, just letters you skip trying to find one or two sentences you might find interesting and useful. This one made me continue reading. Thumbs up!

  37. 3940

    One is sure, it can be loved or hated, nothing beatween ;) I like it very much, but this arrows sometimes made me lost, like too many text clouds in comics.. But it’s surely very interesting and have many interesting links. Thanks!

  38. 4041

    I like some of the examples, however this post doesn’t follow the trend very well; in particular notice how most of the examples, whilst not using a regular template do have a clear internal structure. They manage to combine style with legibility, for the most part. This just feels thrown together; the design is obscuring the content, which is still a cardinal sin, no matter how much style you put into your layout.

  39. 4142

    Love the content. Love the design. Love the concept.

    In a noisy world full of time-wasting messages, this makes a connection. In my case, a good one, in other cases (from the comments) maybe not so much, but well designed content that makes an impact, like this, is always great to see.

    Top shelf, really great stuff.

  40. 4243

    It’s rare I comment on SM articles (although I highly value each of them) however I find myself inclined to do so on this one. Paddy, you have done an absolutely outstanding job on this post and I believe you will have opened many people’s minds into just what can be done.

    Several people are mentioning that it would take too much effort to create a different design for every post. This may be true in some cases and it clearly depends on what it is you are blogging about but in the majority of cases, I couldn’t disagree more. If you truly value what it is you are blogging about, then the extra care and attention to create an engaging medium for your post can and will add huge amounts of value to the overall appeal to your content. The 3 people you’ve chosen to highlight are all fantastic cases. Your layout on this post is inspirational, on point, usable and frankly beautiful.

    Thank you, genuinely for putting this sort of effort into a post and thank you Smashing Mag for promoting it – you have a huge audience – the majority of whom call themselves designers, so I hope that soon we will see much more elegance and much less monotony in blog posts (I don’t mean on Smashing, I mean in general). I know I, for one, will be creating different layouts and styles for different blog posts in the future and I hope many follow suit.

    Thank you, genuinely.

  41. 4344

    I am a beginner blogger and just launched my site this weekend. Although I’m excited to provide great content, I was disappointed in the presentation that I had to use because I don’t know anything about CSS or HTML. I felt that waiting to learn it all before I began posting would have probably put me off another 6 months. Of course asking someone else to help can be pricey because a servant is worth its hire.
    I enjoyed your post because I understood what your point was. It was more of an example of what could be, not what should be.
    How does a novice with no knowledge of anything besides downloading WordPress even attempt doing Blogazine, though? Blogazine style would be hot for my site because I want it to have a “fashion magazine” edge to it. “Tailor Made: God’s Bespoke Tailoring, a blog by Reid Klos”

  42. 4445

    I think the “Idea” is good, but it completely depends of the content you’re publishing,
    I just can’t imagine a Showcase or Coding Tutorials published on this way, I think that the use would be better on an Art Blog or something like that..!!

    But well this was a great post anyway!

  43. 4546

    Martin Bentley Krebs

    November 19, 2009 8:53 am

    If “visual mess” and “design trainwreck” had a child, then beat it senseless, this is what it would look like.

    This is as bad as the “stunning” typography examples that are completely unreadable. Time for a reality check, guys…

  44. 4647

    michal matuska - think-ia

    November 19, 2009 8:54 am

    Hmm, do not think this is a smart way at all. It will be very hard to maintain some brand id. Many clients use blog for its simplicity of adding content. Some even connect blog to MS WORD and publish through that. Most will pay for a blog customization and have a design done and engine integrated and thats it.
    as a user i also want to get used to a heading and what i can expect on next page. If it is a bit odd one considers it a call to action. And relating website to a magazine? There is an obvious remediation of newspaper in early internet, but have we not moved from the days of HTML 2? Last point i have is that most readers, not surfers readers, complain about cluttered layouts, ads etc. If content paramount it needs to be presented clearly. This is distracting to majority and reminds one of cluttered layout of current cheap magazines. over and out.

  45. 4748

    This article makes me want to disabled the stylesheets. I’m here for content. Not show-off-overloaded-heavy graphics. I tried to read this article, but I wasn’t able to do it more than a minute… It’s taking me so much effort to try. I have a big screen resolution and even with that, I found the text too big… too many scroll down… So for me, usability = big zero. I don’t want it super pretty, I want it pretty readable. Or maybe I’m too oldshool?
    Must be an interesting article though….

  46. 4849

    For me, THIS IS the best post of Smashing Magazine.

    For sure it takes a long time to stylish every post, but the result is very original and we take pleasure to read this. You made a nice mix between information and design. Congrats.

  47. 4950

    Hey all,

    Thanks for the constructive comments, both positive and negative. Glad that a lot of you like what we tried to do here. It’s true, there are a lot of limitations to this style of blogging however, as pointed out in the article. It takes an insanely long time to do and it’s certainly not applicable for every blog but there are a number of benefits to trying something adventurous and different.

    Regarding Inline styles – once you start to do a post like this, it’s far too complicated and slow to create a separate CSS file. It’s much much faster to just go through each piece of content one at a time and style it individually. Inline styling is largely looked down upon in modern webdesign, but this is the one occasion where they are quite appropriate. That one particular paragraph is the only one in the whole article which will need that left margin of 413px so using an inline style makes sense.

    The web out there has a tendency to get very ‘samey’ so it’s nice to know you’re going to get something drastically different every time you visit the likes of Jason, Dustin or Greg’s websites and I, for one, feel compelled to read every last detail of their articles.

    Granted, this is a huge article and takes quite a while to go through, but we wanted to fully cover the concept. Hopefully this has provoked you to think about your own blog posts’ appearance, even if it only involves subtle changes such as striking imagery, different typographic styles or slight layout tweaks, then we’re going to get a much richer experience as readers.

    And hey, if all you want is the content then you always have your RSS reader. :)

  48. 5051

    Alexander Polyakov

    November 19, 2009 9:00 am

    This approach rocks! See a great use of it in interview posts. Because, damn, each person is different and each story too. Thank you for inspiration!

    P.S. There must be a length consideration for blogzines too, somewhere near CSS galleries attention started to degrade. But I understand it’s 100% personal. Just interested to see where it happened (if happened) to other readers.

  49. 5152

    “I’m not dead yet” said the Blog.

  50. 5253

    I think the underlying message about pumping a bit of creativity back into an otherwise rigid medium (web publishing systems) is good, however I would agree with previous commenters that the length of the post is just too long for this type of content. There is an art to producing these sorts of long articles in the context of print that makes it easy for the user to continue from one page to the next and I’m not sure this particular example helps with that. The color combinations, styles and placement are inconsistent and all over the place.

    The effort in design is apparent, I just don’t think it works as well as it could. The content is what I’m concerned with first and foremost when I read an article and if the design gets in the way of grokking the content I usually do a lot of skimming.


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