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Web mags embracing standards?

25th April 2006

I’m indebted to whoever selected our Dirty Pretty Things site for the Site Envy section of this month’s Practical Web design magazine (UK). There is a full scan here.

Scan of magazine - click for larger image

It’s really cheered us up on the fifth day since BT botched our web connection. An office without web is like a deep breath without oxygen, hence I’ve been at home for days.

Anyway, I’d not read Practical Web design magazine before, but it’s actually very good, and seems to be leaning heavily towards web standards. There are quite a few CSS and PHP/MySQL tutorials intermixed with general scorn for frames and tables - plus a spot-on Builder’s Bookmarks section. I never liked any web design mags until recently. It seems that web standards shift copies, so amen for that.

I also love the fact that images of busty blondes fiddling with laptops on magazine covers help sales - it’s like industry-specific porn. Reminds me of the old Top Of The Pops compilation albums - although you’d get nipples on those.

I know this question crops up quite often, but whilst we’re on the subject, are there any web magazines (made of paper) that you find useful - or are magazines dead? Was I wrong to think they only ever feature Dreamweaver and Flash? You may wax lyrical about the much-lamented Cre@te Online magazine if you wish.


# Paul Annett responded on 25th April 2006 with...

I’ve not really given any Web magazines the time of day, short of killing time in WHSmith’s whilst waiting to meet somebody. From what I’ve seen they’re much more tailored to the hobbyist market (which I’d assume is much larger). Presumably there’s no real way to cover Web Standards in a few short pages without relying on prior knowledge, which (compared to the relative ease of WYSIWYG HTML editors) would look very strict and scary.

# leslie responded on 26th April 2006 with...

Yeah, yeah… its great you got mentioned. But did they mention EE along with DPT? lol…

Congrats on the magazine mention! I always get pissed off when I realize how much better the magazine market is in the UK. You may not think highly of it but compared to the trite we get in the states, at least in terms of web design materials, we get nothing unless we pay 4 times the cover price for imported UK mags.

# leslie responded on 26th April 2006 with...

Maybe the “Dan Oliver” listed as the editor of Practical Web Design magazine is the same as this Dan Oliver and likely the person responsible for getting DPT into the mag.

# Daniel Oliver responded on 26th April 2006 with...

That’s good to see. Congrats.

Just for the record though I am not the editor for the magazine and I’m not in anyway anything to do with them, but it’s good to see they are starting to take more notice of web standards. The editor has a cool name as well, so there’s another reason to go out and buy the mag.

I have bought this magazine a few times over the past 2 years and you can certainly see the change. It has improved a lot of this time and it’s always a good place to see some nice work in the galleries and interviews.

Nice work on the DPT site and well done on getting published.

# Nathan Smith responded on 26th April 2006 with...

Congrats on the magazine feature. It’s funny that no matter how revered a designer might be online (such as yourself), it’s always all the more cooler to see your own name in print. By the way, nice interview with pMachine too.

# Mei responded on 26th April 2006 with...

I get .net magazine every now and again. It’s pretty good, and the free CD is always welcome. They are pushing web standards, and have good links to open source software.

I stopped buying PWD a few years ago - it was full of tutorials about drawing art in Photoshop and useless Flash games. Not very practical (at least IMHO). I’ll have to take another look.

# gb responded on 26th April 2006 with...

I tend to stick to the generically design related when buying magazines. Stuff like Print, HOW and CommArts. I’ve been of basically the same mind in regards to the “they only seem to talk about Flash in web magazines” or other stuff that is just generally uninteresting to me. I’d also like to be proven wrong.

# Matt Wilcox responded on 26th April 2006 with...

I never look at web magazines anymore exactly because of their being aimed at ametures, or just being clueless about standards. Nice to hear there’s a mag out there that’s not stuck in the 90s!

On a related note, there’s a magazine out called ‘Advanced Photoshop’ and for once, it contains what it says on the cover. Very pretty magazine, and very useful and interesting content. They figure you already know what a layer is and go for complicated stuff. Like changing a summer photo into a winter scene, explaining how to use Bridge to enhance your workflow, and such. If you’re into Photoshop, i’d reccommend taking a look at it.

# Anthony Casey responded on 26th April 2006 with...

This is a a long running issue for us in our office. We’ve been looking for a decent mag to subscribe to for ages.

Last year we tried Web Designer.

It was crap - all 12 of them. (To be honest the trial issue we based the decision on was pretty OK and covered typography.)

it is under a new publisher these days. But so far it’s still crap.

Sample Tutorial: Replicate stunning light rays in Photoshop

What this actually has to do with web design I’m not sure, and quite frankly, the results were highly embarrasing…

I’ve toyed with the idea of just trying a generic design mag, just for inspiration. Something like Creative Review, Computer Arts or some other variant…

Ho hum.

Cre@te Online was good though. I remember buying the first issue. But I also remember them starting to charge silly money for it.

I think there really is room for a really well designed Professional web design mag.

# Ray Mosley responded on 26th April 2006 with...

Well I haven’t bought any for a while but only two worth buying are computer arts and .Net magazine. I don’t generally read the tutorials but what interests me is they cover a lot of design firms around the world and feature the projects and office environment they employ.

When I worked in the nightclub industry there was an industry magazine named Night. It was great told you about the business aspects and featured refits etc. I have searched for the last year for a design magazine along the same lines where it is more focused on industry professionals rather than your bedroom designers.

# Si Jobling responded on 26th April 2006 with...

I’m a long time subscriber to Computer Arts as I like to keep in touch with the general design market as much as possible. It helps me keep up-to-date on current trends when it comes to styles as well as showcasing some really good different examples.

I’ve also found the interviews with agencies interesting as they often go into the background of how they got started and the methods they went through to keep their head above water during the tough times.

Another reason I keep subscribed is due to the fact I was once in it for one of my university projects winning an award they were sponsoring. That issue has been preserved and will stay so for as long as possible! ;)

With regards to proper Web Standards though, it still falls short and often focuses on Flash based sites or the very basics of Web Standards. There is definitely room in the market for a good Web Standrads magazine that should, in theory, have enough information every month to keep in circulation.

BTW, RIP Cre@te - I’ve got most the issues of that magazine and loved every single one of them (even if it did make a huge dent in my student loan forking out for it every month!)

# Kitsimons responded on 26th April 2006 with...

I gave up on industry magazines a long time ago; nowadays I’ll only ever pick up a copy of Computer Arts etc… before boarding a plane (after balking at the price of course).

Overpriced and can’t move as quickly as online magazines IMO. Though it is good to see them focusing standards.

# Paul Boag responded on 27th April 2006 with...

I actually produce a bi-weekly podcast for PWD magazine and so get a monthly subscription. I have to confess it has made a convert out of me. Before reading PWD I had pretty much given up on magazines but there is something so nice about being able to put your feet up and read something away from the PC. I look at computers all day and so its nice to have an alternative. Also although things like RSS are great and keep you abreast of most things there is something to be said for editorial control and having stuff filtered for you.

I guess at the end of the day I cant bring myself to take my laptop to the toliet with me so a magazine is a nice alternative ;)

# gareth responded on 27th April 2006 with...

I like magazines in general, but same as everyone not sure any of them really fit the bill. I like Linux Format for the odd geeky stuff - covers PHP and the like quite nicely.

Oh and Cre@te is still one of the nicest designed pieces of magazine work I’ve seen. I’ve still got a stash of them and occasionally lament.

# Dan Oliver responded on 27th April 2006 with...

I’m glad that those of you that have seen the magazine since its redesign think that we’re going in the right direction.
Just to clarify, and not wanting to put off any potential readers, we are not really aimed at pro designers. We don’t stroke egos (too much), and we’re not big fans of the design cliques that seem to be prevalent (which, to blaspheme, was one of Cre@te’s biggest failings IMHO); we just want to show our readers how to add cool elements to their sites, and deliver that content in a refreshing way.
As for Web standards, we try our best to keep our tutorials as up-to-date as possible, but this doesnĂt mean we avoid packages like Flash. I think Flash has a place within Web design, and I love the new features for dealing with video, for example. However, our main coverage concentrates on CSS (about 10 pages from the next issue).
For pro designers, IĂd seriously recommend .net. But if youĂre a hobbyist with a passion for web design, then IĂd say that weĂre probably your best bet. But then I would ☺
If anyone wants more info on the mag, or has suggestions of what theyĂd like to see included, IĂm happy to hear your thoughts. Just drop me a line at

# gareth responded on 27th April 2006 with...

Ok, I’d agree on the Cre@te snobbery that went on late in the day. One of the features I did like though was the round the table chats. Get smart people in a room, give them a topic and transcribe the interesting bits. Maybe due a come back?

# Elsa responded on 4th May 2006 with...

Not read PWD, as I expected it to be aimed at the enthusiastic FrontPage user, but I may pick up a copy for the train now.

That said my usual read of Computer Arts seems to give indepth web stuff a wide birth in favour of the pretty pretty. It does give a good all round view and seems to walk a fine line between enthusiasts and cheesey tutorials and professionals and interesting articles around design companies and thier projects.

Cre@te quickly got carried away with the dot com hype of the time and travelled far too up it’s own butt for anyone oon planet Earth to stomach ;)

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