So the Guardian online: Guardian Unlimited has had a redesign. Not that surprising, the previous design did seem like a slight hangover from the three column era (the BBC are still sticking by that, but it can only be a matter of time: we ditched it last year on Freakytrigger). Now we’re not saying, like we always do, that the Guardian are copying us. Clearly they are not. But what is interesting is the timing of this design launch and what they haven’t done.


Today is a big news day. Admittedly there is a massive amount of ennui floating around Blair’s resignation: has anynews item ever been so overly trailed. Nevertheless it is scheduled to be announced at 11:45am, when most people will be at work and their main source of news information will be online. And that generally means in the UK, BBC Online or The Guardian. Those are also the two most accessed British news websites abroad. So it makes sense to launch a design today for maximum exposure. It is also risky of course, if it hasn’t been tested properly. But i get the feeling it has, and that is due to point two.

What they haven’t done is significantly change the logo. It is still called Guardian Unlimited (a name which seems a bit hokey now, but still works). And it still uses the dark block font from the pre-Berliner Guardian days on its masthead*. So while lots of sections (Comment Is Free for example) uses the new headline font, the online edition still hangs to the old days. This is odd, until you think about what the Guardian Unlimited is. It is one of the most trusted and successful news sites in the world. It has managed to shake off some of the perceived historical issues of the Guardian newspaper, no-one ever talks about the Grauniad Unmiltied after all. And while the Guardian on the newspaper racks is unusual for a colour masthead and has a distinctive shape, neither will play into its web identity.

It is a stage by stage redesign, lots of the sections still have the old look, none of which is a bad thing. Its going to the front page that matters. Emily Bell, the online editor, on the redesign.

*Or something similar anyway. What is interesting is the masthead now seems smaller than the Mac/PC adverts above it. Hmm, can’t wait for the Mitchell and Webb film. There’s not enough Mitchell and Webb on the TV.