The Transformation of an Industry
Published on May 13, 2004
When Krista Stevens asked me to write a short piece about the history of Digital Web Magazine in tribute to the site’s eighth birthday this May, I thought about what kinds of things I would write about. The idea crossed my mind to start at the beginning by explaining how I got the idea, why I purchased the domain and what made me turn it into a full-blown, online publication, but then I realized that this is not what Digital Web Magazine is about: it isn’t about me or where I started, it’s about us, where we started and where we’re going.
For those of you who may be long-time readers, you may have noticed subtle transitions over the years. I’m not talking about changes in the design of the site; I’m talking about changes in the content. We started out as a Web publication focused strictly on the front-end design aspects of Web sites. Over the years that focus has shifted, not because our readership had changed, but because the Web had changed. Building Web sites was no longer just about presentation and cool GUIs, it was about good usability, solid architecture, convenient accessibility and compliant code, as well as transparent design.
We started our shift based on the premise that you, the reader, knows about design; we then educated and informed our readership about the other aspects of design that were once overlooked. Readers started seeing articles not just about layout, colors and typography, but also about navigation, site structure, globalization, search engine optimization, usability, accessibility, user-centered design, and much more. These are not things that you just need to know as a generalist, these are things you should know as a Web designer who knows and understands your medium.
Sometimes I wish I could pull out a crystal ball and predict where the focus on things will shift to next, but that’s not very realistic. We have to take a wait-and-see approach to Web design. Sometimes this approach causes a stall in innovation and evolution within the industry. It’s at those times where the true genius of the Web really shines. I say this because the hype of most things ebbs and the dust settles just long enough for everyone to take a look around and find those individuals who are really pushing the medium forward, doing something that will make a difference.
Those are the people who are often overlooked and unheard of in the mainstream buzz of the industry. Occasionally, we are lucky enough to get a few of those people to write articles for us here at Digital Web Magazine. They volunteer their own free time, with little reward, to do something that is nothing more than a simple gesture of giving back to the community.
It’s at times like that that I am reminded this is no longer about me or even just Digital Web Magazine, it is about us as an industry and as a community. This industry is what we make of it and you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here’s to another eight years, everyone.
It all started with Nick’s Tutorial on Liquid Design and ever since then I got hooked on Digital Web Magazine. I was amazed to see such great content coming from a volunteer site at a time when the “Independent Web” hadn’t even been thought of. There are many sites out there that focus on web design, but there are only a few that have had such a long lasting place as an authority. I am not surprised to see Digital Web Magazine still around because it has stuck to its principles from the beginning. It is a site for the community by the community.
Large scale design sites and personal design blogs will come and go, but it seems that Digital Web Magazine may be here forever and that is a good thing for everyone. I am honored to be part of a site that I looked up to when I was a young designer and look forward to seeing what is in store for us in the future.
I almost can’t believe Digital Web Magazine is celebrating its 8th birthday. Has it been that long? Seems like just yesterday I was looking to Digital Web Magazine to provide me with that sorely needed Web design info and contact with the Web community. At one point it was one of a handful of sites I visited on a regular basis. How things have changed! I’ve been with DW in an editorial capacity for almost two years now and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be involved with something that brings so much to the table and has such a solid past.
Digital Web Magazine has survived the “dot bomb”, the advent of blogging and the dispersal of the independent Web, and through it all it’s managed to maintain a high standard of quality, keep pace as a leader in the Wed design community and a represent a force for positive change on the Web. Everyone who’s ever been involved with Digital Web Magazine should feel extremely proud of the work they’ve done.
As I often say, “the Web is about people.” The same goes for Digital Web Magazine. Working with such great folks, from our authors to the other editors to all the readers, is a true pleasure and I’m glad to have been given the opportunity. I can’t say it’s not been a challenge at times, but it’s really been worth it to see where we are today and to think about where we can go from here.
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Nick Finck is a 13-year veteran of the web and considered a web craftsman by trade. His skills traverse web design, web development, user research, web analysis, information architecture, and web publishing. Nick founded his first web consultancy in 1994 in Portland, Oregon, and has since created web experiences for various Fortune 50 and 500 companies including Adobe, Boeing, Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Cisco, CitiGroup, FDIC, HP, IBM, Microsoft, PBS, Peet’s Coffee, and others. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington and is a co-founder of Blue Flavor, a web strategy company that focuses on people-centric solutions. More information about Nick can be found on his web site, NickFinck.com.
D. Keith Robinson is the creative director for Seattle experience design firm Blue Flavor and writes about Web design and more at his blog Asterisk. His expertise comes from 10 years of professional Web development and design for companies like Boeing, Microsoft, and Sony.