New Innovation Blog--Check it Out.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on May 22, 2007

We have a new blog on the Innovation & Design site called NEXT—Innovation Tools & Trends. Jessi Hempel and Helen Walters are writing it and it’s really good. There’s a post on crowdsourcing there now.

Let me know what you think of the design of the blog. It doesn’t look like other blogs—and I don’t think that’s a good thing. But I’m not a graphic designer so… I could be wrong.

What do you think? We could use help here. Diego? David?

Reader Comments

Laura

May 22, 2007 4:17 PM

Since you ask, pop-ups are considered bad design. If you're going to blog design, you probably don't want to clutter the site up with an obnoxious of pop-ups and blinking ads. It kind of undermines the credibility of the site, don't you think?

Bruce Nussbaum

May 22, 2007 4:24 PM

Laura,
Thanks. I agree. I'll pass it on.
Bruce

Adam Richardson

May 22, 2007 8:03 PM

Bruce,

I think you would benefit from a bit of brand architecture and related website architecture. You've got a lot of blogs and "sub-brands" for BW dealing with Innovation and Design, but it's hard to keep track of them and find them. They are quite spread out, and the hierarchy of naming could use some fine tuning. I think this would help folks find all the content that you are pulling together, and see how one thing relates to another.

In terms of the new blog, it looks more like a front page to one of your other new sections, not a blog. It does not visually indicate that it's a blog since it's not linear by date (visually) and only gives a couple of lines to describe each article.

Hope this helps!

David Armano

May 22, 2007 11:14 PM

Bruce, first off congratulations to you, Helen, Jessi and anyone else responsible for helping to make this concept a reality. It's never easy launching something new.

Secondly, after spending some time on NEXT, I do agree that "non blog" format may not be helpful to the NEXT brand.

Adam makes some really good points (esp the front page one). The issue for the NEXT blog itself is that by not exhibiting certain blog "conventions" it becomes unclear if this is indeed a BW blog or a just another subbranded section of the BW site featuring niche editorial content.

But here's the reason why I think it would help NEXT to adapt more "blog conventions" such as the typical 2 or three column format with newest content at the top etc. By looking more like a blog, I think it puts a stake in the ground that it actually IS one. It just happens to be part of the BW family. To me this is more of a brand/design issue more so than it is a usability one. First ask yourself,is NEXT a truly a blog or a convenient way for BW to allow staffers to self-publish content.

Here's the difference. Some blogs have readers and subscribers. Others have readers, subscribers, participants and ultimately communities. Neither model is wrong or right. But I did notice that Jessi and Helen have been proactive in curating comments. (BTW, might be nice to have most recent comments visible somewhere)

So, from a design perspective. If you're going to act like a blog--why not look more like one? Maybe NEXT can help move the BW site beyond readership toward community building, complete with active participants in the form of regular commentors etc.

Last thought. One of the great things about blogs is that they add value by pointing to other blogs of interest or calling out related resources such as books, wikis etc. There's an opportunity here to not just provide content, but to serve as a compass for businesspeople interested in innovation, design etc.

Hope this is constructive and helpful, and please pass on my congratulations to the team!

Diego

May 23, 2007 12:27 AM

Welcome to the blogosphere!

The non-scroll layout differs from the norm but I'm more than willing to live with it for a few weeks in order to understand its merits.

David Sleight

May 23, 2007 7:52 PM

Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm the Deputy Creative Director here at BusinessWeek.com and I thought I'd take a moment to discuss the thinking behind the blog template for NEXT.

Every 6 or 8 months the web design blogosphere starts buzzing with the question, "What are blogs, really?" Or statements like, "The current blog design conventions feel tired." Frankly, many of the design metaphors we've come to accept as "blog-like" descend from a handful of pre-packaged templates that are now several years old. But there's plenty of inventive blog design work being done if you look for it. Work that, even if ever so slightly, expands the boundaries of what we call "a blog" beyond simple reverse-order lists.

It's odd that a format as young as blogging could have picked up "traditional" conventions, so we were looking for layouts that might help nudge our blogging a few steps forward. Specifically, this format was designed to showcase the longer-format, essay style writing of many of our staffers. A single full current post the user doesn't have to click on to read in full, and a two column ragged-depth format for recent posts that you can easily scan and drill down into to read more.

But it turns out that Jessi and Helen are doing a great job of posting shorter items with higher frequency. NEXT has an immediacy that's great, but not necessarily showcased as well as it could be by the current template. To that end you'll be seeing some changes over the next few weeks as we adjust to the best format for their particular voice. We're looking forward to it.

What better place for a lively, living experiment in blog design than a blog about design?

(Again, thanks for the comments. Keep them coming–we're listening.)

Adam Richardson

May 24, 2007 6:03 AM

David, thanks for your background comments. I think it's really interesting to be thinking about new blog formats - as you say they have become a bit stale even after a fairly short time. So kudos for experimenting. However there is a point where the boundary between blog and more conventional website or magazine gets blurred. At that point, as David Armano notes people still tend to rely on those cues to recognize a blog. And if you're going to experiment, why even call it a blog?

UX Magazine (http://uxmag.com) is a nice example of a hybrid. Very slick design, but they have RSS feeds and tags.

David Sleight

May 24, 2007 5:27 PM

Adam: You raise a very good point. Why even call them blogs? Essentially the, "What are blogs, really?" question coming back in another form.

Many of us had been publishing regularly on our personal sites long before the term "blog" ever came along. Really, it was the advent of specialized software (Blogger, Movable Type, WordPress) that ushered the term in and started lending the medium some "standards" (for better or worse). The barrier to entry was lowered dramatically and the "blogging boom" took off. That's great. But the downside is we've picked up a lot of homogenization in the process. I don't necessarily feel a strong sense of nostalgia for those earlier "anything goes" Wild West years, but a sense of exploration and adventure in these designs has become that much harder to tap into.

UX is a great example of a place that's using these standard tools to more inventive effect. It's run with blog software (TextPattern, to be precise), yet it doesn't feel at like an off-the-shelf blog. It feels like a magazine. Same goes for A List Apart (though that's now running on custom software). Or DealBook over at the New York Times (WordPress, last I checked). All of these go a little bit beyond the boundaries, and as a result, showcase their content that much better.

Bruce Nussbaum

May 24, 2007 6:23 PM

I'm learning a lot from this conversation on blog design that extends to the more abstract notion of the identity of things. Just when can you take an accepted and utilitarian form--like the blog--and change it into something else. In art, we do it all the time successfully. But in the marketplace, especially the online marketplace, when does it work and when does it not work.

I'm guessing that in the blogosphere, where people are moving very fast from, grabbing bits and pieces of thoughts, images and impressions, it is important to have a familiar anchor. How familiar, I don't know. But familiar enough to identify what they are moving through. Somehow, blogs have to remain "blog-like."

And, of course, they have to reflect the personalities of their authors and the audience they are part of, as much as their designers (if they are designed at all). The tired cliche--co-creation--really applies to blogs on many levels.

Blog design is not about technology and software. It's about chemistry and community. That's what has to be designed.

I think.

vinay kumar

May 31, 2007 9:04 AM

brand architecture

Deputy Dawg

January 2, 2008 9:31 PM

I love popups in the morning when they come out of the toaster!

Spliff Burnah

January 2, 2008 10:09 PM

It's looking more and more like we are headed toward a systems engineering type development process, which hopefully will bring some good things to our less formal , more of an oral tradition -type of a development process. Of immediate interest/concern is the use of ...Use cases...the UML/Jacobsonian kind. My question is what are your experiences, thoughts, comments as usability/UX professionals and working with or in a process that uses use cases?

Jogos

March 9, 2008 6:30 AM

I think it's really interesting to be thinking about new blog formats. Blog design is not about technology and software. It's about chemistry and community. That's what has to be designed.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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