If you haven’t seen it yet, the new redesign of WebPageTest is lovely!
Saturday, January 29th, 2022
Thursday, June 3rd, 2021
Two decades of thesession.org
On June 3rd, 2001, I launched thesession.org. Happy twentieth birthday to The Session!
Although actually The Session predates its domain name by a few years. It originally launched as a subdirectory here on adactio.com with the unwieldly URL
That incarnation was more like a blog. I’d post the sheetmusic for a tune every week with a little bit of commentary. That worked fine until I started to run out of tunes. That’s when I made the site dynamic. People could sign up to become members of The Session. Then they could also post tunes and add comments.
That’s the version that is two decades old today.
The last really big change to the site happened in 2012. As well as a complete redesign, I introduced lots of new functionality.
In all of those incarnations, the layout was fluid …long before responsive design swept the web. That was quite unusual twenty years ago, but I knew it was the webby thing to do.
What’s also unusual is just keeping a website going for twenty years. Keeping a community website going for twenty years is practically unheard of. I’m very proud of The Session. Although, really, I’m just the caretaker. The site would literally be nothing without all the contributions that people have made.
I’ve more or less adopted a Wikipedia model for contributions. Some things, like tune settings, can only be edited by the person who submitted it But other things, like the track listing of a recording, or the details of a session, can be edited by any member of the site. And of course anyone can add a comment to any listing. There’s a certain amount of risk to that, but after testing it for two decades, it’s working out very nicely.
What’s really nice is when I get to meet my fellow members of The Session in meatspace. If I’m travelling somewhere and there’s a local session happening, I always get a warm welcome. I mean, presumably everyone would get a warm welcome at those sessions, but I’ve also had my fair share of free pints thanks to The Session.
I feel a great sense of responsibility with The Session. But it’s not a weight of responsibility—the way that many open source maintainers describe how their unpaid labour feels. The sense of responsibility I feel drives me. It gives me a sense of purpose.
I’m 50 years old now. The Session is 20 years old. That’s quite a chunk of my life. I think it’s fair to say that it’s part of me now. Of all the things I’ve made so far in my life, The Session is the one I’m proudest of.
I’m looking forward to stewarding the site through the next twenty years.
Sunday, November 1st, 2020
A people’s history of copying, from art to software.
Designers copy. We steal like great artists. But when we see a copy of our work, we’re livid.
Saturday, September 26th, 2020
Thursday, June 25th, 2020
Cassie’s redesign is gorgeous—so much attention to detail! (And performant too)
Thursday, March 26th, 2020
It was a few years before I realized that worry stones had a name, that they were borrowed from cultures other and older than mine. Heck, it’s been more than a few years since I’ve even held one. But in the last few weeks, before and after launching the redesign, I’ve kept working away at this website, much as I’d distractedly run my fingers over a smooth, flat stone.
Wednesday, March 18th, 2020
Cameron’s blog is back, and very nicely redesigned/aligned it is too!
Sunday, January 19th, 2020
I feel like my problem with design in general today is that folks want to burn everything to the ground and start again all the time. Whether that’s with a website, or a new web standard, or a political policy. They don’t want to fix what’s wrong with things bit by bit, everyone wants Thing 2.0 whilst jumping over all the small improvements that are required to get there.
Wednesday, November 27th, 2019
Lynn gives a step-by-step walkthrough of the latest amazing redesign of her website. There’s so much joy and craft in here, with real attention to detail—I love it!
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
Frank is redesigning in the open. Watch this space:
By writing about it, it may help both of us. I can further develop my methods by navigating the friction of explaining them. I’ve been looking for a way to clarify and share my thoughts about typography and layout on screens, and this seems like a good chance to do so. And you? Well, perhaps the site can offer a clearly explained way of working that’s worth considering. That seems to be a rare thing on the web these days.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2019
My goodness, Meagan’s new site design is absolutely gorgeous! The colour palette, the typography, the texture, the motion design …it all communicates character and personality. Beautiful work!
Wednesday, February 28th, 2018
Go deep, deep down the rabbit hole of Rob’s brain in all its colourful glory. Seriously, this is simultaneously a great write-up of how he came up with his site’s lovely colour scheme(s), and it’s a terrific primer on colour theory and why the HSL value in CSS is so, so wonderful!
Tuesday, November 28th, 2017
Smashing Magazine has launched its lovely new design, but more importantly, it has launched its lovely new business model. Ads are gone. Patronage is in. This is a resource worth supporting.
Sunday, November 19th, 2017
Two decades redesigning/realigning the BBC News home page.
Tuesday, October 17th, 2017
Dave has redesigned his site. Now it’s extra Dave-y.
Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Rob has redesigned his site and it’s looking lovely. Here’s the first part of a three-part series on the rationale behind the relaunch:
I don’t pretend everything I do or say online is worthy of preservation. But while I’m still breathing, I want to be the one who decides what gets preserved and what doesn’t. And I want it all to be available in one place. Owning and operating my own site is the only way.
Friday, September 1st, 2017
I’m doubling down on owning my own content, so I’m excited to have a less-crusty home for it all.
It’s fun! In a world where even sites that aren’t Medium dot com are looking like Medium dot com, I’m excited to try something different.
Sunday, March 19th, 2017
After Clearleft’s recent rebranding, I’m really interested in Happy Cog’s redesign process:
In the near future we’ll be rolling out a new website, followed by a rebrand of Cognition, our blog. As the identity is tested against applications, much of what’s here may change. Nothing is set in stone.
Friday, March 17th, 2017
An open beta of Smashing Magazine’s redesign, which looks like it could be a real poster child for progressive enhancement:
Thursday, January 19th, 2017
Looking beyond launch
It’s all go, go, go at Clearleft while we’re working on a new version of our website …accompanied by a brand new identity. It’s an exciting time in the studio, tinged with the slight stress that comes with any kind of unveiling like this.
I think it’s good to remember that this is the web. I keep telling myself that we’re not unveiling something carved in stone. Even after the launch we can keep making the site better. In fact, if we wait until everything is perfect before we launch, we’ll probably never launch at all.
On the other hand, you only get one chance to make a first impression, right? So it’s got to be good …but it doesn’t have to be done. A website is never done.
I’ve got to get comfortable with that. There’s lots of things that I’d like to be done in time for launch, but realistically it’s fine if those things are completed in the subsequent days or weeks.
Adding a service worker and making a nice offline experience? I really want to do that …but it can wait.
What about other performance tweaks? Yes, we’ll to try have every asset—images, fonts—optimised …but maybe not from day one.
Making sure that each page has good metadata—Open Graph? Twitter Cards? Microformats? Maybe even AMP? Sure …but not just yet.
Having gorgeous animations? Again, I really want to have them but as Val rightly points out, animations are an enhancement—a really, really great enhancement.
If anything, putting the site live before doing all these things acts as an incentive to make sure they get done.
So when you see the new site, if you view source or run it through Web Page Test and spot areas for improvement, rest assured we’re on it.