You are now looking on the new redesign of The Seattle Star website. If you have hit upon this article by clicking a link from somewhere, then you are like most of our readers and the changes probably look small. If, however, by some chance you are one of the few who actually visits The Seattle Star home page, you will probably notice a complete reformation.
You will notice far fewer pictures and far more whitespace. The reputation of the Star rests upon the strength of its writing. I have emphasized this fact with the new design. The emphasis here is upon reading text without distraction. The header and the footer of the pages are now easily revealed/hidden by clicking on the “Show Menu” and “Further Information” buttons at the top or bottom of each page, and navigation between articles should be much easier.
This is not to say that we have eliminated pictures. Obviously we have not. In fact we have expanded their role. I have always wanted a stronger visual presentation for visual art and articles about visual art. The new photo gallery is a step in that direction, and a new design for sequential art is also present. This should give artists in the future a far superior airing than they have had in the past.
You might also notice the new typefaces, Merriweather Sans for the headlines, Trykker for the body text. Partly I choose these two to improve readability. Largely, however, I choose them because I feel the website should be more Unicode-compatible. I speak Polish among other languages, and most typefaces have no suitable glyphs for Polish or Slovenian characters. These do, and they are attractive besides.
Beyond these, other changes are more subtle. Our Events Calendar looks much nicer. You should notice a slight speed increase to the website, and it should look more consistent from browser to browser. We aim to make this site a true joy to read and to be a part of. There is still quite a way to go, but I believe we are headed the right direction at the right pace for now.
As part of re-emphasizing the reading experience, I have also sought to reward my writers more obviously for their hard work. To this aim, I have made a “Tip Jar” button that floats to the right of each post, just below the author’s name. Allow me to reiterate a point our editor, Jose Amador, made a year ago.
It should go without saying but clearly it does not: Quality content on the Internet always runs the danger of being buried by the glut of pure garbage. It also runs the danger of simply ceasing to exist because the time and effort that writers put into creating such work almost never receive their appropriate reward. We at The Seattle Star believe information on the Internet should be free. We do not believe that it has no value. The trick is to encourage quality content without locking it up behind a paywall or other outmoded economic ploys, and without cheapening it with banner ads, popups, and other SEO nonsense. The old economic model for journalism simply does not work in contemporary times and we must create alternatives.
We use a voluntary pay system. Tip The Web’s “Tip Jar” button allows you to reward authors directly for their efforts. Trust me, it is a very pleasant surprise indeed to find someone read one’s article and appreciated it enough to throw a dollar one’s way, like a street busker collecting change in a fedora or a traveling theater troupe passing around a top hat for donations. Authors love to feel appreciated.
On another level, we also fund The Seattle Star by collecting Memberships and Donations. The Membership page contains information on the subject, but if you simply wish to donate, you may do so by using the PayPal function at the foot of the page. Membership and Donation monies go into the general fund and are divided collectively among the staff once we pay off our overhead. This year I have raised the membership price for new members to $20.00. Old members may continue at the old rate of $10.00 a year. In return for raising the membership fee, we at The Star have created much cooler incentives. What are they? You will have to find out…
Faithful readers should always reward quality content. Writing is hard work. Poets and photographers and comix artists, too, put a lot of time into their work and deserve some remuneration for their labor. Until there is a better way to do this that allows The Seattle Star to remain free while still rewarding its creators fairly, this is our approach.
We thank you all for supporting us over the past year. We hope to be here for you for many years to come.