_Create Online: a mag for professionals

An award-winning publication for web designers

Create Online Flash cover

Launched in June 2000, I conceived Create Online as a forum for professional web designers to exchange ideas. Every issue was an event, with around 20pp devoted to the cover theme. Comment and opinion were crucial and so much of the mag was built to challenge concepts about good web design while at the same time offering tips that can be used in designers’ everyday work. Being a mag for designers, a key part of Create Online was strong covers and contemporary design sensibilities. And because designers hate reading huge swathes of copy, content was planned out in such a way as to offer an innovative structure with plenty of entry points.

Create Online used only the most knowledgeable writers and a different guest photographer each issue (a strategy which enabled us to get photographers cheap because they used us as a showcase). We collected two design awards (PPA and Total) which helped us gain access to worldwide web ‘stars’ – as evidenced by the interviewees in our Dialogue section. Despite little active overseas promotion, a third of our readership was outside the UK, having found the magazine through word of mouth. In particular, we were read by many big Web ‘names’ in the US.

Our biggest promotion (which I conceived as a way of expanding our audience) saw us getting in front of 400K potential readers worldwide in a deal I set up with US software company Macromedia, makers of Flash. Our issue interviewed the world’s 10 best Flash designers, explored how designers could use Flash to get work outside of web design, and included a debate in San Francisco. Macromedia financed our trip to the US and promoted the issue to their registered users in a three-stage process. Additionally, without resources to distribute the issue to 400K readers, I took the 40pp of features and put them online in PDF format which meant we could obtain potential reader emails and thereby market to a whole new audience.

Achieving credibility in the design market is difficult. Therefore our unprecedented access to web ‘stars’ and glowing testimonials from around the world represented a massive achievement for such a young title.