.Net Magazine | July 25, 2006

Last year I bemoaned the sorry state of UK web design magazines. Most of the magazines I came across were hobbyist titles, full of Flash portfolios, “how to” tutorials in Dreamweaver, and articles about setting up a shopping site in under 10 minutes. None of these titles seems to focus on professional designers, and they all seemed stuck in an Internet of five years out of.

I used to subscribe to a magazine called Create Online during the dotcom years, and from what I remember it was pretty good. They would have interviews with top designers, check out agency portfolios, and take a look inside company offices. This was obviously a lot more impressive when agencies had sushi bars and golf courses in their buildings, but it was still a good way to see what was going on in the industry. Along with this they would run the usual feature articles, and I even remember one about web standards that included an interview with Jeffrey Zeldman.

Unfortunately the magazine stopped being published, and I got sent a copy of something called .Net as a replacement. Sadly .net was aimed more at web users than developers and was full of articles about ISPs, Spam and ways to make money off the web. There were some tutorials, but they were all very basic and obviously aimed at the amateur enthusiast rather than the web professional.

I quickly cancelled my subscription and didn’t look at .Net magazine again for a long while. Over the coming years, .Net magazine slowly cut back on the Internet news and started concentrating more of web development. It was still pretty low level stuff, with lots of “how to” articles in Dreamweaver, but there was definite improvement. There was even the odd standards based article from the likes of Rachel Andrew.

Towards the middle of 2005, .Net magazine seemed to get a renewed vigour and a small re-lunch in Oct 2005 saw a subtle change of focus from a hobbyist magazine to a more professional audience. This was typified by more in-depth articles such as Jeremy Keith’s DOM scripting tutorial, a topic that probably wouldn’t have received coverage a few months earlier. Subsequent editions saw articles on web development trends, Ajax, British design and PAS 78.

Last month the magazine went through it’s biggest overhaul yet. The magazine saw a compleate redesign, giving it a modern and unified look. However it was the new content that really impressed me. The August Issue of .net saw interviews with Mike Davidson and Jon Hicks, articles by Jesse James Garrett and Stuart Langridge, and tutorials from John Oxton, Gareth Knight and myself. On top of that there was a good article on website redesigns, a look at “the real web2.0”, a great editorial by Andy Rutledge and a sweet tutorial about mod_rewrite by Rik Lomas.

As part of the re-launch I was asked to become part of the magazines advisory panel along with Molly Holzschlag, Andy Clarke and Patrick Lauke. The idea behind the panel is to provide the publishers with industry feedback, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on the redesign, and the type of content you’d like to see in future issues.

As part of the advisory panel, we get to see the next issue a couple of days before it reaches the shops. I’ve had a quick flick through issue 153 and it looks pretty good. I hope I’m not giving the game away when I say it includes an interview with Joshua Schachter, an article on business blogging, an editorial on speculative design contests, a tutorial by John Oxton on liquid layouts and another tutorial by Rik Lomas on Google Maps.

The re-launch issue was a great read, and I hope the future issues will be of the same high quality. If you are like me and dismissed .Net magazine in the past, I’d definitely give it another look.

Posted at July 25, 2006 9:34 PM


Paul Robertson said on July 25, 2006 9:27 PM

How about dropping the “free” disc and investing the money in a few more pages

Lee said on July 25, 2006 9:29 PM

I’ve had a .NET subscription for a while now but over the last few months I began to wonder whether it was worth continuing. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I would cancel, on the whole I felt I was getting better information from my RSS feeds, and for free. Then the relaunch issue arrived and I’ve completely changed my mind. I actually like reading and have something to learn from the magazine again. They’ve finally got some respected names talking about what the industry as a whole is discussing. Definitely a positive change.

Chris Heilmann said on July 25, 2006 9:40 PM

I’ll have a featured “expert column” in .net and the “step by step tutorial” in the practical web design mag in the next issues. My very own personal newsagent roadblock :-) It was by pure coincidence and although both editors are in the same office they didn’t know about it :-)

Adam Hopkinson said on July 25, 2006 9:59 PM

I’d also not looked at .net mag for a while, but after hearing about your article last month, i picked up a copy. Much impressed, I subscribed (through work).

The forthcoming articles seem to be tailored personally for me, as i’m currently working both on persuading my employer that blogs are good for business and also on google maps. Guess it’ll be on my desk in a few days, then.

gb said on July 25, 2006 10:45 PM

I always figured a mag named .net would be about .Net (like ASP.NET, etc). What a pleasant surprise… now just work on getting that widely available in the states, k?

Justin Halsall said on July 25, 2006 11:53 PM

Sounds promising, I’ll pick up a copy when I’m in the UK next week.

Andy Budd said on July 26, 2006 12:15 AM

I think the magazine is published in the states under the name of web builder.

Nick Dun said on July 26, 2006 12:26 AM

If it saves time and money, then I’d like the CD to be binned. On the whole, the content is available as downloads anyway (demo software, for example). Also, if the mag is aiming more at the professional web designer/developer, then would they really need a CD? Most of us are savvy enough to type in a URL or Google for a download.

I too was an avid reader of Create Online. It was actually what inspired me to take up web design when I was still at school. I saw a photo of the trendy offices at a local agency, and nagged them, for GCSE work experience until they relented.

I did feel that Create Online lost some of its appeal when it became over-designed, too many typography articles, and too many ads. Besides, the fact that each issue had a particular theme (porn, 3D, offline, XML, branding) its format would always have a finite lifespan.

If the quality of content from the latest .Net issue can be maintained (cutting edge or intelligent content, not reprinted blog articles or articles that repeat excerpts from the latest New Riders or friendsofed book ;-) ) then I’ll be subscribing.

Whilst I think about it, how about a News section, or reviews from the active conference circuit?

I think I’m going to waste tomorrow by thumbing through my Create Online archive. I feel all nostalgic.

Barry Bloye said on July 26, 2006 8:15 AM

The change in direction for .Net sounds interesting.

We used to subscribe to Internet Magazine in my office, which had a lot of varied tutorials and articles on issues affecting designers and webmasters of all levels, but sadly that one also ended up being discontinued.

Instead, we got sent three trial issues of Broadband World, which, to put it one way, looked more like something that you’d get bundled with a weekend tabloid.

Perhaps it’s a tricky market to sell to, since so many articles and tutorials are already freely available online.

Shaun said on July 26, 2006 8:35 AM

As a subscriber the relauch has been a real breath of fresh air.
The content is sooooo much better

Dropping the CD however is not something I would advocate I know we all get annoyed by those freeware progs that we never use but video tutorials / code examples often help and save a bit of bandwidth and time if distributed on CD. I like following examples but not where code is injected with paragraphs of text and vica versa.

Reading/completing the tutorial and comparing that to the on screen final code helps

However still haven’t found the google maps stuff on the CD yet!!.

The active circuit idea is a great one proposed by nik dun. As a northern (rural) developer I sometimes find it difficult to get to the bright lights to experience all on offer!!

Steven Tew said on July 26, 2006 9:17 AM

Same here. I dropped .net years back and was very surprised to see how much it had improved when I flicked through a copy this month. (I’d heard a rumour that they were going to cover the @media2006 event.)

It’s definately going in the right direction. Looks great. Topics are comparatively fresh and standards orientated.

I loved the fact that I recognised so many names in the articles. More of this please!!

Loved the ‘free’ templates idea, this could be built upon, and they don;t necessarilly have to be desing based. Anything I can drop into my Dreamweaver snippets is good. But does this really need to be provided on a disk? Can’t we just be given a URL? Save the money and spend on more interviews.

The industry advisory panel is great news too. Well done to who ever came up with this. Wow - it feels ,like there’s actually going to be a web magazine that’s pitched at my level!

DAZ said on July 26, 2006 10:35 AM

I picked this month’s issue up to read on the train and was so impressed that I signed up for a subscription. This magazine is miles better than the competition, but I’m with all the people that ask for the CD to be dropped - it’s a waste of time and would hopefully bring the price down a bit.

Rik Lomas said on July 26, 2006 10:41 AM

Shaun, I’ve just spoken to .net about the Google Maps tutorial files - the files are on the CD, but they’re in a folder called Apache, rather than Ajax! If you still can’t find them, email me and I’ll send them over to you.

Louise Dade said on July 26, 2006 10:48 AM

I’ve been a .Net magazine subscriber since I was a beginner and appreciated those earlier “how to” tutorials.

About a 18 months ago I started thinking that perhaps I had outgrown .Net - until that point I had continued to subscribe because just occasionally there were more advanced tutorials.

However, before I could cancel my subscription, they started the modernisation/professionalisation process described in the article and I got excited again. The last couple of editions have been excellent.

On the issue of the free CD, I have found I am far more inclined to quickly install and test some software from the CD, than to wait 30-40 minutes for it to download (I’m still on dialup, believe it or not!) and then discover the software sucks.

In fact, the first time I tried the Firefox web browser was when it was on the .Net CD - I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. I tried it, LOVED it, and now I don’t mind waiting for the updates to download, because I already know it’s worth it!

I do wish, however, that they still provided a proper cover for the CDs, instead of the envelope you tear out — even the cardboard cover slips were better, at least you could stack them in a CD rack!

Now that .Net has grown up, I do wonder what there is out there for beginners - if .Net is how I started, how are new people going to start? If the first thing I’d seen when I picked up my first computer magazine had been a DOM scripting tutorial and Mod_rewrite article, I’d have run a mile!

Tommy said on July 26, 2006 11:50 AM

Andy, why do links on your site always load on to same page rather in a new window?

This is a pain as the PHP you use is slow and when you click the back button to return to your site it takes a while to reload.

Adam Hopkinson said on July 26, 2006 12:16 PM

Is a cover cd not a revenue generator?

I know it costs money to produce, but it also adds value for many people and so drives them to buy the magazine. OK much of the content is available online, but if the videos were also freely available online then I imagine .net would lose a percentage of sales and therefore have less to invest in future issues.

Chris Neale said on July 26, 2006 1:29 PM

Futurenet seems to have moved/be moving all their cover CDs/DVDs inside the magazine - it’s happened to both PC Plus and Linux Format.

Andrew said on July 26, 2006 2:26 PM

Is a magazine priced at 6 pounds ever going to be value for money? I’m pretty sure it’s this price point that fuels the infuriating 3 deep browser (human not web) phenomenon in WHSmiths? If I can’t get to the shelves - I can’t buy it anyway!

Darren Nicholls said on July 26, 2006 6:36 PM

your comments about the ‘how to…’ articles rang true to my ears, along with to many adverts I had been put off picking up a copy for a while now. but the new strength in articles and encouraging words has enticed me to go grab a copy. thanks. D

Shaun said on July 27, 2006 7:49 AM

Thanks Rick Lomas, found the files
Helps me no end with my JSON learning..

Attention to detail is always good and what makes things great and usable. .NET are obviously taking this on board, is that a clearleft influence?

Darren said on July 27, 2006 10:04 AM

“small re-lunch”? How very media! :-)

Will certainly look out for a copy - I’ve missed Cre@te, and never really liked the Highbury titles that followed.

Thanks for the prompt!

Adriano Castro said on July 29, 2006 1:50 PM

After having read your post I decided to take a look at the latest issue and ended up buying. Great stuff! I’ve finished reading the August issue and have just bought the Summer 2006 special (?) issue which came with a quick CSS book (The CSS Anthology) with tips and tricks. The book alone is worth having to use as reference.

I’m definitely going to subscribe! Highly recommended.

Luke Williams said on July 31, 2006 10:05 AM

I definitely agre. .Net mag has come a long way since the ‘how to use a computer’ issues 2 years ago. It’s also quite useful for young, learning web designers such as myself because of the mixture of low level entry tutorials and more difficult,at least from my standing point, such as the AJAX chat room.

Anyway. Good post :D

sam cavender said on July 31, 2006 2:06 PM

I put together the CD for .net & it’s interesting to read what some people think about it. The range of responses is pretty broad and we inevitably get people who don’t use it, which is OK.

The freeware/open source stuff will stay on as it’s still handy to save people the time raking through the rubbish that’s out there & see some of the latest tools, but it’s by no means the point of the disc. I’ve developed it in the last few months to get rid of trials and concentrate on useful commercial media (stock images, web templates, video tutorials, fonts etc) in order to create a more tangible & consistent link with the industry the mag’s all about, but I can see people want different things from it - email me if you’ve got any major beef (disc@netmag.co.uk).

Glad to hear people like the redesigned mag - I think it’s ace.

Leesy said on August 1, 2006 2:22 PM

I started to buy .Net just before the editor changes that happened a while back. I must admit I have really been enjoying the last few issues. They content has been inspiring and got me through a lot of long train journeys on the way to work. I love the cover art and feel that it’s much better than the ladies on other web design magazines (**cough** PWD cough).

There are still a few things that I think could be left out the magazine - the gadget section for example. The section is fine but I don’t really want it in my web design mag. The news section could also probably be shortened as I’m sure most of the magazine’s readers would have already seen most the stories online anyway.

I’d also like to see less of the Flash/Photoshop tutorials and see something more generic (using free tools perhaps?). After all, if you are a professional you are likely to know the tutorial’s content already. If you are not a professional, you can’t afford to buy a copy of Flash/Photoshop.

One thing I do like that PWD has that .Net doesn’t - a podcast. I think that’s a nice touch. Anyone feel like doing what Paul Boag is doing but for .Net?

Leesy said on August 2, 2006 7:01 AM

Well it looks like I’m going to have to take that comment of mine back. I had picked up issue 152 but hadn’t read it yet so I hadn’t seen the new changes. The web pro section at the end was a nice addition - guess I’ll have to pick up 153 and give it a proper read now.

Dan Oliver said on August 2, 2006 4:16 PM

Hi all,

Thanks for the feedback.
There will always be sections of the mag that people want to cut back on, but .net isn’t just aimed at designers, it’s also aimed at developers, bloggers, podcasters, and anyone that’s contributing to the web.
It sounds a bit arsey, but we aim the mag at “web users with a fanatical interest in design, development, and web culture”. So, it’s definitely not Create, but it’s a bloody good read ;)


Mark UK said on August 3, 2006 11:09 PM

I’m only repeating what’s been said above really but I thought I’d post anyway to add to the numbers.

I used to be a subscriber of .net but stopped sometime in 2003 as I felt I’d outgrown the advice (very arrogant I know). I picked up a copy of the new look mag the other day and was very impressed (I did wince at the price though). I think I might re-subscribe.

Sorry, Sam C, as great as the CD compilation probably is I too think it should be ditched from the mag, especially if it were to help bring the price down. .Net readers clearly are, in the majority, net savvy and thus if the need arises can easily find the majority of that content online.

Looking forward to future issues - my one worry is that the magazine doesn’t go back to talking to the same people week in week out like it used to earlier in its life. It got quite tedious hearing from the same old commentators who were clearly close friends with the editoral team rather than fresh voices being brought in.

Incidentally just checked out the .Net site - nice to see that looking a bit more like a proper website now rather than something which, rather ironically, ignored most of the advice the magazine was giving out about usability and the like.

James McCarthy said on August 3, 2006 11:49 PM

I had totally dismissed it at glance… just another microsoft fanmag.

Top tip, it is just so pleasant to have something to thumb through while sipping coffee upstairs at Puccino’s.

Rob McMichael said on August 7, 2006 10:04 PM

I too had assumed it was a .net as in Microsoft .net magazine!!! Looks like I’ll check it out next time im in borders on faced with a long train journey.

djn said on August 10, 2006 11:09 AM

The new mag is great, i agree though that it’s a bit pricey! as you say we aim the mag at “web users with a fanatical interest in design, development, and web culture?. so I think you could drop the cd and lower the price! or have 2versions; one with cd/one without.

The new website’s also much better, my only complaint are the annoying popup advertising, a surefire way to annoy people!!!

Lisa said on August 10, 2006 6:29 PM

Hullo! As the person who edited .net through the redesign and 2005 (when we knew what we wanted to do with it but didn’t have the resources quite yet to change it) I just wanted to say how gratifying it is to read some of the positive comments here. It’s difficult enough publishing a print magazine about the web, even more when it’s a m-o-n-t-h-l-y edition. Still, I think there is a place for a magazine that takes a concentrated look at the issues affecting how we produce today’s web sites - and .net is streets ahead of anything else (but I would say that!), especially with such a dynamic and brilliant team of advisors, contributors and editorial behind it. Anyway, time to let go… :)

djn said on August 10, 2006 9:40 PM

Tru enough Lisa! Email newsletters, Blogs etc are gr8 but there’s something to be said about good old print media :P

Michelle said on August 11, 2006 1:55 PM

Like you Andy, I had looked at .Net in the past but had dismissed. I, however, discovered it again when I was in the local library and took it out for a look (yes I’m tight!!,) and as you discovered, it had rejuvenated itself. I do really believe whilst there are many web design / development resources online print versions are really necessary, if just to stop my eyes going squiggly!

Richard Kendall said on August 14, 2006 10:35 PM

The cover price is a little steep paying £6 per month, but now the quality of content and contributors has risen, I think getting a subscription for only £9 every three months (direct debit) is a bargain!

It’s not always easy reading a lot of articles and interviews online, I print out a lot anyway, so as long as the web design and development content remains realistic and relevant to the industry today, then dot net is definitely worth reading.

J R Mortland III (Bob) said on August 18, 2006 5:27 AM

Yeah, I think this is known as Web Builder

Deborah Gray said on August 24, 2006 7:16 PM

Only problem is that it’s almost impossible to get in the United States (and I live in California).

Simon Philp said on August 25, 2006 8:52 AM

I have to say that the mag caught my attention (153) and I haven’t looked back. It would be good if they could even the development side of things, maybe have an article for php and an article for .net (I am a .net developer).
I will be subscribing next month I think as I have used a couple of the “handy tips” esp when it comes to css.

This also my 1st comment. Hello all.