Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aesthetics and On-Line Publishing

I've been looking around at on-line journals and thinking about what I'd like Trillium to look like this year.  Here's a few other literary journals that have caught my eye:

Crate, the literary journal at UCRiverside has a really cool look about it.  It's dark and gritty and industrial and makes me think of horror films and all the basements I don't want to find myself lost in.  The down side is that it can take a little while to load and may cause problems for readers with spotty Internet connections, which may include some of our readership, but I love the flickering lights and the darkness/color scheme they've selected.  They seem to have added more text than I remember them having in the past, which hurts the immediate impact somewhat.  If Trillium has visuals as strong as these, I definitely think we should limit the text itself.

Babel Fruit also has a cool look.  I first discovered this journal last year, and like Crate, I have submitted to them in part based on the aesthetic appeal of their website.  In both cases, I particularly like the way one links to various sections of the journal.

Memorious does a lovely job of foregrounding art while keeping a clean look.  The number of accepted submissions, too, may give us something to shoot for--they are extremely picky about what they take and have earned a reputation for being a top notch journal as a result.

I wish I had some back issues of the Black Warrior Review handy.  They've done some really cool graphic covers in the last few years--very edgy and comic book inspired--but unfortunately the website doesn't show the covers on the archive and their website itself, while clean-looking, doesn't reflect the edginess of the print issues.

It strikes me in general that one of the dangers I most want to avoid is having a website that's too busy.  Many overwhelm the reader with text, too many font sizes, too much "splash," for lack of a better word. I want to aim for a visual look that's strong enough to work with little said, but navigable enough to help readers find a nice clean page featuring each writer's work.

Question to consider: One thing I like about Ninth Letter and about some of the journal projects that Kaitlin has been involved in is that the writing is overlaid upon some sort of visual image.  I think this works best when the visual is not distracting.  I appreciate it, too, when there's some variety (that is, each one is unique) yet they have some sort of aesthetic quality in common that maintains the unity that one journal should have.

I would like to come up with some sort of "brand" for Trillium--a visual icon or a title font or both--that we can use on future posters, tee shirts, and so forth.  Perhaps this, too, could play into the background art for the submissions we accept.

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