Amazon's Digital Photography Review, a.k.a. dpreview, has recently given itself a fairly thorough makeover.
A redesign is a big moment in the life of any publication, whether in print or on the web. It's a chance to modernize, to respond to perceived shortfalls in the previous look 'n' feel, to rethink priorities, to reorganize, to refresh. It's usually fraught with considerable peril, because many subscribers or readers will have gotten used to the old ways and be temporarily discomfited by the new—and this is especially true of websites, since they're interactive. The peril is real, because one might not recognize missteps until they've been made. It's an opportunity for evolution, but it's also an opportunity for a publication to hurt itself.
Personally, not that anyone asked or cares, it seems to me they've done a good job. The redesign seems mainly to accommodate ads, but that's important. And otherwise it manages to refresh and rationalize while being respectful of its established identity. Which is what one wants.
Some people may feel that the ads make it a bit busy, but dpreview is one of the content sites in our segment that is moving beyond sole proprietorship—it has staff, which means salaries, which means a nut to crack. As traditional "mass" media declines and the web rises to fill the void, websites are going to have to learn how to grow—so they can do things like commission photography, hire editors and copy editors and fact checkers, and pay writers and reporters for content. So far the web has had a siphoning effect on traditional media but at the same time has struggled to rise to the standards of traditional media's strengths. I won't criticize any site for making sensible adjustments to grow toward filling a bigger role and taking on more social responsibility (even if the "society" in this case is a niche). It's what the web is going to have to do.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.