The intern made me do it

Full image.

Roger Black, May 2006. [Rob Hunter]

oKAY, okay, okay, it’s red, white and black. I’ve taken a lot of heat since I suggested that the classic print color combination could work well on the web. No one followed this advice, and so most web sites are white, gray or blue. Or a combination.

But Rob Hunter, the designer of this site, and former University of Nebraska student on his way to study in Edinburgh—and to stalk the great Ally Palmer—said, “Let’s rub it in their noses.”

And, big surprise, I kind of like it.

If you don’t, you can push Rob’s SIMPLIFY button, and the design calms down. But the real point of the site is not its design, or even my studio’s portfolio, but what we’re thinking about, and how we are approaching the current meltdown in the media.

I hope to host several guest authors in the near future. And if you join in, it’ll be much better. You’ll read everything from debates about font embedding, to presentations of transforming technologies like WPF, to questions about the future of the big media companies.

Out of the gate there are four categories of discussion, Media Commentary, with all of the above, and Point and Counter Points (where two authors present or attack different angles of design, strategy, or critique).

On the same track, I’ll be hosting Question and Answer sessions, and we’ll be soliciting your questions to present them. Then, Visual Commentary will exhibit a range of redesigns, launches, on the web, video, or in print—web sites and new technologies—anything that impacts our field. The idea is get your thinking, since none of use have a full grasp of what is happening in the media.

So, welcome to the last blog.

Your Thoughts (15 comments)

2006-09-08 by Patrick B

Hard to read...

The white text on a red background makes it a little hard to read. I also would suggest some gradients sprinkled throughout the site to add some depth. It's too flat at the moment.

2006-09-08 by Josh

The Serifs!

it's the serifs! a sans-serif typeface would be much more readable. Otherwise I dig it.

2006-09-08 by Neil

Agreed the white text on a black background is hard to read, and using such a bright red color makes the whole screen shake a little. I really like the typography though, and it does really stand out amongst the sea of cool colored blogs.

2006-09-08 by Neil

the above should read "white text on a *red* background"...

2006-09-08 by Wesley Paisley

nice party

Dear Roger: Nice party! In case you have another just invite me. I am guy that wanted to mess with your laptop and looked through your nice book collection; in case you need a face

2006-09-10 by Christopher


This site is more than 1024 pixels wide. Unless you have a large monitor or widescreen, a decent chunk of the site is just cut off. I thought sites that were already assuming everyone has a 1024 monitor were jumping the gun, but maybe you just adress a different clique of people.

2006-09-10 by Martin G


People fear what is different and they tend to criticize what they do not understand. I think this is by far a change to what I have seen in any other webpage that I have been to, simple but complex! The simplify button blends in to what either party wants. Will sure “steal” some ideas from this webpage. Keep it up Rob!

2006-09-11 by beckley


I like the fact that there are no gradients and overused depth tricks. The typography rocks and I especially like the wacky drop shadow on the body text on the main page. Who does that? Nice work.

2006-09-11 by Ben

White on Red with Serifs! Yikes!

Great looking site. But I have to agree with those who are critical of the white body text on red with a serif font. Makes for some tough reading. I do however, love the idea of the Simplify button for easy reading. And while this <i>almost</i> makes up for the problem, it doesn't really solve it completely. At least that's my two cents! Great site though!

2006-09-12 by Rich

love it!

I am also a fan of the red, white, & black scheme (oh-so-Bauhaus). It looks great on my G4 laptop screen and the type is very legible. I love the bold san serif heads against the serif copy. I think it is super easy to read. Beautiful b/w photography too (also works great with the color scheme). I think it's one of the best designed sites I've ever seen, but my love is print over web, hands down; it's likely I'm biased toward a certain aesthetic. I appreciate that there's nothing moving around and no soundtrack playing in the background. My only issue is the justified type. It works mostly, but at the top of your posts (this one excluded), when the type shares the column with the image, the gaps between words are often awkward. Your site is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to read. It's sophisticated without seeming pompous. I think it's sharp as hell.

2006-09-12 by rich

addendum to "love it!" (above)

Looking at your site on my desktop PC at work. The red is brighter and the body copy is much thinner and less defined...readability is more of an issue in this set-up. I wonder if this is an issue on the new Intel-driven Macs? Not that it looks bad now, but it looked so much better on my mac!

2006-09-13 by Gayle

Dear Roger, You have been an inspiration (and even mentor) to me since the mid 1980s, as I was a student at San Francisco State University, way back then, when you graciously offered feedback to our humble student publication, PRISM (one of the first ever produced on the Mac). You had a great deal to do with my pursuit of graphic design. I have since worked at a couple different magazines that your firm has redesigned. While I respect your typography instincts, seriously, how far can you ride this red & black (formerly Oxford) rule formula? Until all magazines, websites, Blackberry & screens look the same? I think you have kind of sold out. The red and black thing is very ho-hum and not so eyeball-friendly, if you ask me. Gayle

2006-09-16 by Stephen

Simply Remember...

<rant>Nice idea, poor execution. Why make your readers who don't like red keep seeing it because they have to press the "a little too simple" simplify button on every page.</rant> Barring the rant above I really like the design. I might actually come to the site and read it instead of just subscribing to the feed.

2006-09-19 by Mike Rumble

Looks great!

Well I for one think this design and the colour combintion looks great. I think red, white and black might be the new rounded corners!

2010-02-04 by Sarah

I lived by Red, Black & Grey

Gosh I have used these colours for all of my business sites always got great comments until recently I branched out to blue. Now I am building another site (jajamedia) returning these colours! Most of my designers know of your books - they became a solid guideline. White on red? Why not? It makes you focus on the words and provokes thought and interaction - thumbs up from NZ!

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