Current Affairs

The rabble-rousing culture-/politics-criticism magazine Current Affairs continues to not only stay alive in a world of shrinking subscriptions, but remains beautiful, discussed, and cherished. The only problem lay in the disconnect between its lovingly-designed print edition and its just-good-enough web edition. Editor-in-chief Nathan Robinson—who shares my affection for Victorian print ephemera—reached out to ask if I’d be interested in bridging that divide. After carefully absorbing everything Nathan-and-team wished for in a redesign, I enthusiastically set about recasting its article views to exhibit the elegance, whimsy, and sophisitcation of its print sibling.

Production note: As of Summer 2019, my front-end code is in the process of being integrated with Current Affairs’s back-end system. The new templates will go live at the end of 2019.

The masthead of the new article template. The goal was to right away grab the reader’s attention that this is part-and-parcel a partner to the print magazine: classic serifs, bold headlines, clean grids, thoughtful negative space. Current Affairs commissions nearly all of the artwork that appears in the publication, so we wanted a big, cinematic representation of each article's hero graphic. There's even space for CA’s trademark humor: the print edition's tagline changes every month, so the website’s tagline now randomizes on load.

A goal of mine was to ensure that every reader, on any browsing device, should always take it for granted that theirs was the optimal reading experience. Desktop or mobile, tablet or laptop—everyone should get the same responsive elegance.

The experience of reading CA in print is one of joy, and I wanted that to come through when reading its web articles. Pull-quotes, bylines, split-art blocks, interviews: I looked for any opportunity to inject levity into the prose.

After the article-proper is where I could really start having fun. We wanted to keep reminding the reader that the canonical version of Current Affairs is its print edition: stay here on the website as long as you’d like, but you're just a click away from subscribing.

We used time-tested ways to let simple taxonomies and relationships (subject, newness) encourage the reader to keep reading, with minimal-to-no human-editorial curation.

Even signup forms were ripe for embellishment.

Current Affairs always has an extracurricular product in their shop to promote, so I designed a flexible component to always celebrate that temporal content.

After the dynamic content comes the evergreen modules, which let me further play up the Victorian stuffiness.

No component was too trivial for its own Dover/woodcut gags; basic modals are in on it, too.

Because I was working remotely with a team of back-end engineers who’d integrate my front-end code, I made sure to keep everything as DRY—and lucidly named & organized—as possible.