.net magazine: Fine reading for web developers 1

~ 18 July 2006 ~

.net magazine showing 'How to redesign a website'

I’m a bit later to the party than others, but a complimentary copy of .net magazine arrived at my door last week. The magazine is not about Microsoft .NET, but rather a wide variety of web-related topics. 2

First things first: I was floored by the amount of quality web designer/developer-related content the magazine has to offer. This was my first exposure to the magazine, as it’s published in the UK, and it was definitely welcome exposure. Check out some of the article titles from August’s issue:

  • The real Web 2.0
  • Create urls with mod_rewrite
  • Install a local test server
  • Is a two-tier web the only way to provide a robust network?
  • How we built ask.com

The old argument “I can get all this on the web” doesn’t hold water for me much more these days. I love the feel of printed pages; the ability to scribble notes and highlight; the freedom to rip out pages and tape them to the wall. Case in point: I read most of this issue during a flight to Seattle last week.

Second, .net recently underwent a redesign of the mag itself. Bold colors, solid typography, and beautiful illustrations enhance the already compelling content. It feels the way I’d expect a web design magazine to feel. Needless to say, the overall package — content and presentation — makes for an engaging read.

But above all, perhaps the biggest surprise came as I stumbled on pages 34-38 (“How to redesign a website”) only to find my name in print. I had completely forgotten that Jason Walsh interviewed me a few weeks ago regarding website redesigns. (Hence, the complementary copy.) Included are several quotes from our conversation.

How about where the magazine falls short? Only a few complaints. First would be US distribution. It’s rather pricey to subscribe here in the US from what I understand. Bummer. Second is ad quality — some of the ads are really poorly designed. Not surprisingly, the overall quality of a magazine tends to drop a notch when its ads are poorly designed, as if there exists some kind of symbiotic relationship between content and advertisement. A minor complaint nonetheless.

That Text Box Look

One of the aesthetic techniques used prevalently in the recent .net redesign is that of wrapping text blocks with colored backgrounds. Kind of like this. Perhaps the most notable usage is in the recent CNN International on-screen redesign:

CNN International on-air screen design

While the technique is certainly nothing new, I’ve seen it used with greater frequency in the last several months, and I won’t be surprised to see it go from underused to overabused over the next year or so. That said, in an industry replete with Web 2.0-ish design aesthetic, this comes as a welcome departure from current trends and fads.

So, hats off to the team at .net. You guys have my address should future complimentary issues need a loving home.

  1. Observant readers may note this is the first time I’ve NOT used an initial cap image in an article headline. Please observe a moment of silence.
  2. Clarification kindly inserted after it was clear I confused several of you about the nature of the magazine.


Veer Veer: Visual Elements for Creatives.
Stock photography, type, and killer tees. Genuinely recommended by Authentic Boredom.

1   Clifton ~ 18 July 2006 at 10:24 AM

I’ve often wondered if there exists a high-end web design magazine. I, too, like occasional in-hand reading—especially around topics I’m fascinated with. I’ll give .net a look. Thanks, Cameron.

2   Myles ~ 18 July 2006 at 10:38 AM

Heh… “CSS International”? Your brain was thinking CNN, but your fingers are so used to typing CSS.

3   mz ~ 18 July 2006 at 10:38 AM

“Perhaps the most notable usage is in the recent CSS International on-screen redesign” —> you might have meant CNN? ;)

4   Cameron Moll ~ 18 July 2006 at 10:46 AM

lol, fixed.

5   Colly ~ 18 July 2006 at 10:57 AM

The team at .net are trying really hard to get the magazine “right”. Hence the sending out of many copies for feedback, grabbing trusted voices to write features and tutorials, and (drum roll….) a very large emphasis on web standards.

Note also the magazine’s new “Advisory team” or whatever it’s called (not got a copy to hand), an ever-growing list of folks we know and trust.

Another UK mag that is worth picking up is “Web Designer” - not quite as in-depth as .net, but still packed with responsible methods.

6   Rik Lomas ~ 18 July 2006 at 11:33 AM

That mod_rewrite article is amaaazing (and I’m not just saying that because I wrote it either).

Seriously though, the .net team have done a great job with their redesign and their change in focus, from hobbyists to professionals, is a brave one but one I think (and I hope) will pay off.

Regarding the poorly designed ads, I don’t think that it’s .net’s fault - plus advertisers wouldn’t have seen the new issue until after their adverts had been in there. Hopefully in a few issues time, the standard of ads will be higher.

7   Rick Curran ~ 18 July 2006 at 11:57 AM

Yep, it’s a good magazine. I originally was subscribed to a magazine called ‘Create Online’ which was targeted at web professionals, this unfortunately came to an end and my subscription was automatically transferred to .net, I was a bit wary as I considered it a little bit too broad and basic in it’s coverage and I almost considered cancelling, but I’m glad I’ve stuck with it as it has really improved over the last year.

8   David Mead ~ 18 July 2006 at 12:02 PM

I read .NET from issue 1 before I moved to the USA. Good articles though it suffered a little from a lot of “building your first website” stuff as it’s audience grew.

Would love to see it distributed here in the USA.

9   stevie ~ 18 July 2006 at 12:14 PM

Thanks for this tip, I want to get my hands on a copy now!

10   Cameron Moll ~ 18 July 2006 at 12:18 PM

Rik - Agreed. Certainly not .net’s fault, but it does speak somewhat of the companies it attracts as advertisers. I hope to see that improve in the coming months, too.

11   Adam ~ 18 July 2006 at 12:33 PM

Wow - great timing on the article.
Just yesterday, I was searching online for a decent .net magazine.

I came across “.net Magazine”, but could not find a way to subscribe from the states.

Anybody know how?

12   Cameron Moll ~ 18 July 2006 at 12:54 PM

Adam - Do you mean .net as in MS .net? If so, this isn’t it. This is a magazine covering a broad range of web design/development topics, not just the .net framework.

13   Richard Flynn ~ 18 July 2006 at 03:34 PM

I’ve been subscribed to .net for years now, and was seriously considering letting my subscription lapse because of the lack of content addressing proper standardisation and compatibility issues in Web design and authoring. However, following the magazine’s latest redesign, I now seriously have to consider my position!

14   Michael McCorry ~ 18 July 2006 at 05:19 PM

As already demonstrated in the commments, if I saw a magazine in the newsagents called “.NET” I would assume it was about MS .net programming and would move on.

So does this mag have anything to do with MS .net? Is it mostly .net with a bit of web stuff, mostly web stuff with a bit of .net, or nothing to do with .net (outside of the odd web dev article, along with php/RoR/etc)?

I’ve been looking for a decent web design mag for a while, and while particle tree’s treehouse was great, it doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment, and like you say, sometimes its good to have something physical to interact with.

15   Cameron Moll ~ 18 July 2006 at 05:26 PM

Michael - Answer C: Nothing to do with .net, outside of the odd web dev article, along with php/RoR/etc.

I’ve gone back and added a bold sentence to help clarify for others wondering the same.

16   Matt Johnson ~ 18 July 2006 at 06:42 PM

I can relate to the physical aspect as well. I’ve read my web books over and over. Web Standards Solution has been read at least 10 times if not more. Awesome book. I’ll have to look into the .net mag.

17   Amanda Kern ~ 18 July 2006 at 07:13 PM

Nice article - I’m going to have to get a closer look at this magazine. On screen the visuals look great!

Cameron you had a nice key in on one of the latest trends I’ve also noticed with the wrapping text blocks. Another example I just noticed earlier today was on Portfolio Center’s web site. You definitely can’t missed that boxed in text.

18   Christian Hall ~ 19 July 2006 at 02:30 AM

Thanks for the cool feedback on the mag guys, and thanks for taking the time to give your views Cameron. Some of you are asking about .net in the US - it’s sold under the name Web Builder in US bookstores like Barnes & Noble. You can subscribe to it at www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk and you’ll get .net - it’s exactly the same as Web Builder but we made that name for the US market to try and prevent confusion with Microsoft’s product. We’ve also redesigned the website.
Hope that helps,
Christian Hall - .net (www.netmag.co.uk)

19   Sam Hardacre ~ 19 July 2006 at 05:57 AM

Hey Cameron,

Such a strange coincidence that this issue should land on your doorstep just over a week or so since you recommended it to me. This is my first exposure to the magazine and was extremely impressed with all aspects of it. I was actually planning on sending you a copy to say thanks for your advice but they beat me to it!

I never really noticed how badly designed all the collections of ads are towards the back of the mag. It must be an English thing since we get all kinds of crap ads in the back of magazines.

I bought the latest issue of ‘Practical Web Design’ last week and the only ad I noticed got on my nerves because it spread across 16 pages!!!

Anyways, I’ll stop rambling on now…


20   Jeremy Flint ~ 19 July 2006 at 09:29 AM

I used to subscribe to a UK magazine called cre@te. It went away, and they sent me a copy of .NET as a replacement. Back then (2003/2004-ish?) it was rubbish, with lots of tips on using Dreamweaver and GoLive.

Looks like they are really trying to turn it around, so I may have to give it another go.

21   Pete A. ~ 19 July 2006 at 01:43 PM

“How about where the magazine falls short? Only a few complaints. First would be US distribution. It’s rather pricey to subscribe here in the US from what I understand. Bummer.”

This has been my biggest gripe with so many UK publications distributed here in the U.S. whether it be .net, 3D World, Computer Arts, or any of the computer recording/pro audio magazines. The content is top-notch so I often find myself shelling out the $15-30 for the magazine. It might even be for one particular article. Quite a chunk of change, especially when a publication like CA puts puts out offshoot magazines around the same time…the standard, another for Illustration, etc.

One thing that always baffles me is why these types of publications are always imports…I’ve yet to see anything as well-rounded and tutorial driven here in the US aside from HDRI for 3D which is another expensive one.

22   Clay ~ 20 July 2006 at 01:39 PM

I used to get .net at Barnes and Noble, it may still be there. I think it was $13, but you could check out the content before deciding whether to buy.

23   Pete A. ~ 20 July 2006 at 03:34 PM

That’s what I usually do. I’m griping more about the prices of imported magazines in general, whether bought via subscription or at the local bookstore and the fact that we in the US seem to be slacking in publishing that style of publication.

24   Stuart Anderton ~ 21 July 2006 at 03:23 AM

We’re working on ways to make .net and our other design titles more affordable in the US, particularly on subscription. Our business model for magazines in the UK is very different though - we make most of our cash from copy sales not advertising - so it will always be expensive compared to US titles, around the $100 a year mark.

Maybe we should sue Microsoft for the name, since we’ve been published as .net since I launched it in 1994!


25   BigA ~ 21 July 2006 at 05:38 AM

I see Christian beat me to the punch but .net does sell in the US under the name Web Builder. I too am impressed with their redesign ( I wrote about it recently in fact ). Since the demise of Internet Magazine (another UK mag) I’ve been unhappy with .net, but recent changes combined with their rather impressive new advisory board gives me a little ray of hope.

26   Brad ~ 22 July 2006 at 07:34 AM

Please dont forget http://www.computerarts.co.uk, a superb magazine as well. I have some copies, and it is good stuff in there.

27   Peter G. ~ 23 July 2006 at 11:20 AM

Adobe just redesigned their Edge newsletter and I noticed they’re using that text box look for links. Come to think of it, a lot of people have been using the text box look for hover styles on links for a while now (e.g. 37signals), but I think we’re starting to see it used for non-hover states with links.

28   sMs ~ 25 July 2006 at 03:20 AM

Good informations. But whats about the other Scripting-languages like ASP or PHP or PERL?

29   ilincev ~ 26 July 2006 at 12:08 PM

I would also recommend Computer Arts and Computer Arts Projects. These mags are geared more toward designers, but there is a fair share of usefull stuff. Both of them (and .Net as well) is published by the same firm. PS: they might have a new subscription deal (1 year subs for 100 bucks), at least for the two aforementioned ones.

30   Josh ~ 26 July 2006 at 04:39 PM

.NET (Web Builder) its a great magazine. Been buying it for years. I have yet to see a US publication on this topic come even close the this. I dont mind shelling out the 15 bucks a month for the magazine but finally did take the plunge and ordered it for a year.

31   Erwin Heiser ~ 18 August 2006 at 05:57 AM

Funny, for the longest time I too thought it was a magazine about MS .Net
John Hicks mentioned the magazine in his blog too and it’s indeed a good read nowadays…


Authentic Boredom is the platitudinous web home of Cameron Moll, freelance new media designer, author, and speaker. More…

Come in, we're hiring

Full-time and freelance job opportunities. Post a job...

...view all jobs »


A selection of fine reading, available for a limited time only:

In Print

CSS Mastery CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standard Solutions A solid round-up of indispensable CSS design techniques by Andy Budd, Simon Collison, and Cameron Moll.

Mobile Web Design Mobile Web Design A guide to publishing web content beyond the desktop. Tips, methodology, and resources. Now available.


Letterpress Posters Letterpress Posters The unassuming beauty of a freshly letterpressed print.

Wicked Worn That Wicked Worn Look. Techniques for that worn, aged, distressed look.

Mister Retro Mister Retro Machine Wash Filters Turn the dial to “Instaworn” with these filters.

Blinksale Blinksale Dive in and enjoy shamelessly easy invoicing from Firewheel Design.

Basecamp Basecamp My preferred web app for internal and client project collaboration.


HOW Conference HOW Conference Austin, June 24–27. Pentagram, Adobe, P&G, et al.

Web Design World Web Design World Seattle, July 20–22. Practical sessions on web design.

An Event Apart Stimulate Salt Lake City, September 2009. Entrepreneurship and design conference.

Feed Me
Articles: RSS
Linkage: RSS

Follow me: Twitter