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Looking at the Redesign of The Paris Review | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Looking at the Redesign of The Paris Review

I was originally going to include a note in my next Link Drop about the redesign of The Paris Review. After reading the press release that was passed on to me by Web Editor Thessaly La Force I thought it would be worth taking a closer look. This was the line that got my attention.

“We wanted to reflect the look and feel of the print magazine,” said Stein of the new site. “It’s comfortable. The page is elegant and clean, there are no distractions. But it is also state of the art.” Once a static reflection of the magazine’s quarterly contents, the Web site now features new and original content from the magazine and its blog, The Paris Review Daily, which was launched last June.

Usually when I read about trying to turn one medium into another I just want to shake my head, but in the context of this redesign I think it works because of their underlying structure. The aesthetics and type enhance the content as much as a site can, but there’s also some tools that keep the content alive more than paper can possibly do. They’re pretty basic elements like RSS, a blog and a Tumblr site—though it is kind of amazing how many publication sites based in print miss the mark. The fact that The Paris Review publishes quarterly makes the site that much more important. I really like the balance of being able to publish anytime on their site and maintain a high level on the print side.

While I go back and forth in my own mind about the idea of a website becoming irrelevant when there’s Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter, apps and RSS feedreaders that take the traditional web site out of the picture in terms of direct urls, having a strategy to feed content on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly time period makes a lot of sense.

In terms of content, they’ve taken one of their most popular features—the interviews and created an entire section just devoted on that. I noticed a lot of people talking about that on Twitter today as the redesign was mentioned. It’s a great lesson for other print publishers to take note of. For me I’ve already bookmarked the site on my iPad and will probably take a closer look next time I come across a printed issue in that I’ll probably pick it up.

UPDATE: 09.22.2010
There’s a good interview with Jennifer Over who was the primary web designer on the redesign titled Jennifer Over and Our New Web Site.

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