Silently, and with no fanfare, the Wired News redesign of 2002 turned 3 years old a few days ago. I had to search my own site and find the entry, Finally, We’re Live, to confirm the date. I almost let it slip by without even thinking about it.
Not that there should be any fanfare around this. New Year’s and birthdays and anniversaries are just markers in time, milestones, giving us a chance to look back, remember the past, and plot how far we’ve come since then.
Not everyone liked the design. I read through a lot of criticism in the days and weeks following the launch. Some of the critics slammed our decision to support standards, claiming we “must be in bed with Microsoft“. Huh? Others chose to attack the visual design: “[Wired News] appears to be have been designed without benefit of a graphic artist…” Hmm, okay, guess I shouldn’t quit my night job then.
Reading through Eric Meyer’s interview with me on DevEdge is tough to do now. Seems like I knew so little back then. I was learning so fast, and was constantly discovering better methods, practices, and techniques. Immediately after the redesign, I wanted to go back and do it all over. To build it better. But I had to move on.
The original team that made that design a reality is long gone. Sadly, the current full-time editorial staff is stripped down to the bone. Glancing over the staff page, there’s not one employee with the title “Writer” or “Reporter”. And the list of contributing writers seems to be shrinking. Despite this, I’m happy to see Leander Kahney still faithfully churning out articles on Apple, Macs, and iPods, and blogging news and views in Cult of Mac.
We don’t point out validation errors on public redesigns anymore. We know a valid site is such a tiny part of any overall measure of success. Validation is something I only do on my own work now. That said, for a redesign that got so much attention for the jump into web standards and valid code, after three years of evolution and changes in staff, I was surprised to find only 7 validation errors on the front page (as of this writing). And those only consist of a missing type attribute on a <script> element, and several stray ampersands. Either means the existing team is still committed to doing things the right way. Or that the engineering team shaped and molded a solid content management system with rigid boundaries and enforcements.
Once every few months, I still get requests for the location of the original Wired News Design Documentation. Eric always told me I should expand it and publish it in a book. I never had the same confidence in it that he did.
Frankly, I’m surprised this design lasted as long as it has. Not many designs on the Web last for even two years. New technology arrives, methods change, marketing departments get itchy to create new messages, ad sizes change, designers like to rearrange the furniture. Somehow, it’s still there.
I’m glad this time marker didn’t completely slip by me unnoticed. It was an important milestone in my career. Soon after, I finally left Wired to dedicate my energy full-time to Stopdesign. Amazing that it’s been three years already. Yet that time period also feels like it was so long ago. Remember what was happening in your world three years ago?
We’ve learned so much in the last three years. But have we really even begun yet? With all this new potential in front of us, I think we have so much more to uncover.