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Editorial

Welcome to The Manual, Everywhere

When we launched our Kickstarter to build The Manual, Everywhere, we hoped we also might welcome new readers from the expanding community that has grown around the discussion and practice of designing for the web. In the past few weeks, as we blogged and tweeted and talked with folks online and off, we saw our expectations — like our goal — surpassed by new ranks who were excited about what we publish and why.

Our mission is to focus on why we design — the thought and decision that goes into the work that we create for all those screens in our lives — rather than tutorials or interviews. The aforementioned all are distinctly valuable, but we’re most interested in the former, and other smart publications (like our friends at A List Apart, Smashing Magazine, Offscreen, and The Great Discontent) already are covering the latter in exemplary ways.

So over the past three years, we’ve focused on timeless, thoughtful articles and powerful, personal lessons about people, history, culture, philosophy, and design theory, all applied to the web. Below are a few favorites from our first three issues, which are all available in our free, open web edition:

If you work (or want to work) in or with design on the web, and you like to think about (or want to understand better) what that means for how we build, The Manual is for you. For makers, that includes designers, engineers, PMs, and team leads, among others. But it also includes people who simply enjoy good writing, because what we publish is applicable in a broader way to life.

Design, by nature, is a practice of connecting people; the web, in its purest sense, is a mechanism that does the same. We hope to evaluate both for years to come, and we welcome you to join us.

Behind the Scenes

Our New Identity

When The Manual, Everywhere started to take shape, we realized we needed a renewed identity to reflect our new multi-format nature. We wanted a mark that befit a modern-day publisher and honored the modern but timeless character of the articles and lessons we publish – a mark that could stand on its own without relying solely on typography.

For that, we turned to Brent Couchman, the founder of Moniker, whose simple-looking yet powerful branding work we had admired for a while. When Brent handed in his first round of work, we immediately fell in love with the mark we now use today:

Here’s what Brent had to say about it:

The initial idea came from a line in the Letter from the Publisher for the first issue of The Manual: “It’s clear that a number of us are sensing a shift; we feel the tectonic plates of design realigning.”

This idea of shifting was interesting and applied to the project in multiple ways. First, it tied into the overall theme of The Manual (the ever-shifting internet), as well as the next phase, which included taking the Manual from print to any and every screen.

The new logo, as you see it, is just one of the many possible versions it can take. Its ripples can shrink to accommodate a smaller area or expand to fill a larger canvas. We asked Brent to apply the new logo to merchandise for our Kickstarter SUPPORTER reward: a crisp black t-shirt and a smart white canvas tote bag.

Here’s Brent again on the flexibility of the mark:

Rather than using the logo on every item and risking overkill, we built a flexible pattern that could be scaled and expanded to fit at different sizes. For items like totes and t-shirts, it can scale up depending on the size of the object it’s on. It’s a fun way to extend the language of the icon.

We’re elated that our new logo perfectly captures this new phase for The Manual. We’re also excited to continue working with Brent on a special mark for The Fellowship. As we do so, we’ll continue to share progress on Twitter, so follow @themanual to stay in touch.

Editorial

A New Path in Publishing

Since making the decision (and launching the Kickstarter) to publish The Manual online for free, we’ve heard positive reactions from long-time and new readers alike. Yet we wouldn’t be surprised if some wondered — with all our articles and lessons available online for free, why would anyone pay for our ebook, audiobook, and print editions?

It’s a good question, and one we grappled to answer ourselves as we pulled together our Kickstarter proposal. Matthew Butterick, who experimented with a similar path using his publicly-available online book, Prac­ti­cal Ty­pog­ra­phy, addressed this better than we ever could:

Still, read­ers could rea­son­ably com­plain that they haven’t been given enough op­por­tu­ni­ties to change their habit. So here you have it: a book that in­vites you to pay. Not be­cause you have to. Not be­cause you want to. Not even be­cause you should. Rather, be­cause the al­ter­na­tive—starv­ing the con­tent you en­joy—is against your interests.

We flipped our publishing model from paid print to a free web edition and paid ebook, audiobook, and print subscriptions to embrace Butterick’s philosophy. We’re inviting you to pay, and we encourage you to contribute to whatever measure you can to help support good work and keep it openly available on the web.

Going Everywhere

The World Wide Web was founded on an idea of generosity, with all nodes of the network sharing information with one another, freely and openly for all. This same generosity – of sharing, of trading interesting work – brought the field of design to where it is today.

We couldn’t contribute to a full measure when our work was bound by a print paywall, so we’re changing our publishing process to echo the way our discipline has grown. By publishing The Manual freely and openly on the web, we hope to honor those same principles and continue to move the web forward.

We know this is a risk, but we’re positive that it’s one worth taking. We believe our openness will be met with generosity and a shared sense of responsibility from our readers. We hope you’ll prove us right, and back us on Kickstarter

Preview

Preview Our New Ebook Edition

When we started to design the ebook edition of The Manual, we knew we’d have to roll up our sleeves and start from scratch to create a unique experience for our readers.

We’re pleased to say the finished sample of Issue 4 turned out beautifully. It contains Wilson Miner’s article, “Perennial Design,” and his companion lesson. We’re excited to share both with you today in multiple formats:

Download our Issue 4 ebook sample in ePub and Kindle formats.

We’ve previously shared Wilson’s article in both our new web and audiobook editions. Along with the upcoming print edition, they complete the new multi-edition nature of The Manual, Everywhere.

Availability

For now, the best way to access our ebook editions is to back our Kickstarter project. Pledge of £25 (~$40 / €30) or more to get ebook editions of Issues 4, 5, and 6 — that’s more than 10% off the cost of buying them separately, and you’ll also get exclusive access to the ebooks two weeks before they go on general sale.

But hurry — there’s only three days left, and ~20% to go on our project.

Later this year, you’ll be able to buy DRM-free ebooks from our shop in both ePub, Kindle and PDF formats. All print and audiobook editions will include a free ebook edition. If you purchased any of our previous issues in print, we’ll send you an ebook for free.

Constraints and Decisions

Compared to printed books, the device-agnostic and non-strictly linear nature of ebooks imply not only different constraints, but also some extra decisions to be made. Here are a few of ours:

First page

When you open our ebooks, you go straight to our content, not a cover followed by legalese or tables of content. Since the table of contents is usually available from a dedicated button or menu option, and readers likely familiarized themselves with the author list before buying, we get out of the way and let readers go straight to enjoying our articles and lessons.

Illustrations

Contrary to our print editions, illustrations aren’t placed amongst an article’s text. In print, a spread with an illustration on one page will always have text on the other, letting you continue to read without an additional page turn. In ebooks, most readers read with a single page visible at a time, so we placed illustrations at the beginning of the article.

We made sure browsing around is easy. Along with the customary Table of Contents and List of Illustrations pages at the beginning of the book, the Table of Contents on your e-reader will show you each author’s article and lesson nested under their names1.

Furthermore, when you jump between chapters2, you’ll find that an article’s illustration is in a separate chapter from its text — meaning you’ll always see the article’s title and author when you use this feature, even if an illustration precedes the piece.

Footnotes

In ebook reading devices and apps that support this new feature found in the ePub 3 specification, you’ll be able to tap a footnote reference to see its content in a popover without being sent to the end of the article.

Closing Thoughts

We hope you like this new way of reading The Manual. More affordable and immediate than our beloved print edition, it will bring our work to a larger audience and let you read our articles and lessons everywhere you want.

If you love The Manual and want to enjoy all our editions in ebook formats, please consider backing consider backing our Kickstarter project.

  1. This may not work perfectly in every device/app.

  2. Some ebook reading devices or apps don‘t let readers quickly jump through chapters.

Announcement

You’re Invited: Join the Fellowship

In early 2014, as we were building our new website, we invited a small group people to look at an early beta and give us their feedback. We asked them to criticize anything they felt warranted another look — our design, text, and particularly our early take on the new subscription model.

The feedback we received was plentiful and honest, shattering our assumptions and making us question everything we had created. Over the course of the following months, we worked together to make The Manual better for everyone, and we’re incredibly grateful to this early group for their contributions.

Deeper Relationship

We greatly enjoyed this enriching and valuable process and wanted to extend it beyond the website in the immediate future. We wanted to formalize a more intimate relationship between ourselves and a passionate, dedicated group of readers who loved The Manual and wanted to help shape it.

So we established The Fellowship — a limited, private, and intimate community of readers who want to support The Manual in a more significant way, and who will come with us in the journey that is making The Manual.

Their ideas and expertise will become a key part of shaping its future – and, in return, we’ll give them exclusive first-hand behind-the-scenes access to what we’re building, along with some unique treats in gratitude and appreciation for their effort.

Purposely Small

Beginning with our upcoming Issue 5 and expansions to the website, we’ll share all progress with members of The Fellowship as it happens, and we’ll listen closely to their ideas and comments. We want them to feel invested in The Manual as part of the team, celebrating our small victories and sharing our concerns when things get rough.

In order to assemble this tight-knit group of people and foster a relationship where listening, discussion, and collaboration are both encouraged and feasible, we’re limiting The Fellowship to 25 members and setting membership costs at £300 per year.

For now, you can join The Fellowship through our Kickstarter project. But post-Kickstarter, we’ll dedicate a part of our website to explain the motivation and the goals of The Fellowship and invite interested readers to email us. Then we’ll go through the admission process in a more personal and human way.

Giving Back

We’ll reward The Fellowship members with unique treats — membership tokens and bespoke artifacts, advance copies of all our editions (web, ebook, audiobook, and print), alpha access to all new website features, occasional Skype calls for discussions, and even invitations to join our team in our Slack room to celebrate launches.

However, we don’t consider these treats to be the biggest rewards of The Fellowship, and we don’t want them to be the deciding factor for readers considering to join — they’re simply our way to say thank you to our fellows for helping The Manual become a better publication.

Closing Thoughts

The Fellowship — as many other new things we’re introducing with The Manual, Everywhere — is an experiment. We’re very bullish on its importance to the future of the publication, but as with other things, it too will be shaped by our members.

We understand it’s not for everyone, and it was never intended to be — but if you love The Manual as much as we do, we’d be delighted to have you join The Fellowship.

Preview

Preview Our Issue 4 Audiobook

We headed to Women’s Audio Mission in San Francisco, California last week to record all our articles and lessons in the upcoming Issue 4 with our narrator, Roman Mars of 99% Invisible — and today we’re happy to share two samples with you.

Interested? Listen to our Letter from the Publisher to get a feel for what’s in store in Issue 4:

…and check out Wilson Miner’s lesson on how to find the right work for yourself:

We’d like to thank Roman Mars for his excellent narration and all the talented folks at Women’s Audio Mission for their outstanding work in recording and editing our issue. We especially want to thank Terri Winston, WAM’s executive director, and Laura Dean, the engineer with whom we worked on this project. The entire project could not have gone more smoothly, and we look forward to working with them again in the future.

We have much more in the works for October as we open pre-orders on our print books and ramp up production on our ebooks – stay tuned!

Announcement

Welcoming Roman Mars, our Issue 4 Audiobook Narrator

We’re writing to you this week from Women’s Audio Mission in San Francisco, where we’re recording with Roman Mars, the narrator of the audiobook edition of Issue 4.

Roman is the creator of 99% Invisible, a radio show about design, architecture, and the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world. He’s an internationally-known voice, fantastic speaker, and incredible creative talent, and we’re truly excited to work with him.

We also are thrilled to share we’re recording Issue 4 at Women’s Audio Mission, the only non-profit recording studio in the United States that’s owned and operated entirely by women. Women’s Audio Mission is dedicated to the training and advancement of women in music production and the recording arts, where women traditionally are significantly under-represented.

We’re grateful to David McCreath of It Might Get Personal for introducing us to Terri Winston, the organization’s founder, and excited to build a relationship with the team there. You can follow Terri and the WAM crew on Twitter @womensaudio and find more information on their classes and community work at womensaudiomission.org.

We’ll share further audiobook details in the future as we move toward recording further issues – join us @themanual to keep tabs on our progress and sign up for email updates if you’d like advance looks at what’s in the works!

Announcement

We’re Launching a Kickstarter!

Previously, we told you Issue 4 had gone to print, then gave you a deeper look at Issue 4’s authors and illustrators.

Both times, we mentioned we had some big news to share, and here it is: we’re launching a Kickstarter, with three community-oriented goals to free our content and make it more broadly available.

Big Goals, Open Future

1) We’re publishing a free and open web edition.

We’re dropping our copyright and putting all our articles and lessons online for everyone to read and share. Everything will be available under a Creative Commons license on a brand-new responsive site designed for reading.

2) We’re publishing everywhere.

In addition to our print edition, you can now find us on any ebook device, audiobook form, and the previously mentioned web edition.

3) We’re offering “pay if you want” subscriptions.

You can sign up for a recurring subscription for the web, ebook, audiobook, and/or print editions if you’d like to support our work.

To learn more, watch our Kickstarter video, below, and read through the project description — we hope you’ll be as excited as we are about what’s in store and back our work.

In return, we’re giving our backers early access to everything we’re building now and everything we’ll build in the future — along with a few extra rewards, including a trip to Iceland, where The Manual is printed. We’ll rent an Airbnb, tour the factory, get an up-close view of Issue 5, and talk about the future of our work. Pack your snow boots!

New Identity, Site Design, and URL

We also are unveiling a brand-new look, including:

  • A new logo and identity: Designed by Brent Couchman of Moniker, it’s simple and striking, and it reflects our movement across print into digital media.
  • A new website: It’s elegantly responsive and designed with reading in mind, and it allows you to browse all articles and lessons by topic and issue.
  • A new URL: Our current URL always felt like a mouthful, so we’ve moved to themanual.org.

Thank You

These are big steps, and we continue to take them because we have your support. Thank you for helping to bring us this far — we hope you’ll continue to enjoy The Manual, Everywhere.

If you have any questions, please, get in touch! You can email us at hi@themanual.org or tweet us @themanual.


Final call on our sale: We’re discounting Issues 1-3 and our custom engraved plywood case until end of day Monday, September 15th. Check our store for details.

Inside the Issues

Inside Issue 4

Last week, we told you Issue 4 had gone to print and would be available for pre-order in late September, shipping in early October. (Reminder: in celebration, we’ve discounted Issues 1-3 and our engraved plywood case in our store through Friday, September 5.)

Today, we want to give a deeper look at what you can expect from the six articles and six lessons shared by our authors — Jennifer Brook, David Cole, Paul Ford, Diana Kimball, Wilson Miner, and Craig Mod — as well as the illustrators whose art continues to be an essential part of The Manual.

Authors and Illustrators

Like our previous three issues, Issue 4 contains six substantial articles and six personal lessons from some of the best minds writing and working on the web today, along with a beautiful centerpiece illustration by Jen Mussari.

We start with Craig Mod, whose article “On Permission” focuses on finding whitespace to free the mind. In his lesson, he shares his experience moving through memory to being present. Craig’s article is illustrated by Julianna Brion.

Wilson Miner brings us “Perennial Design,” on the impermanence (and yet, future promise) of our work. Similarly, his lesson examines how to approach what we do with perspective and gravity — paired with an illustration by Richard Perez.

Diana Kimball writes “On Mentoring,” a personal tale of solving the mystery of mentorship. In her lesson, she confesses the negative reaction she felt when a friend landed a coveted job, and the surprising freedom she felt in admitting it. Diana’s piece is accompanied by an illustration from Matthew the Horse.

From Jennifer Brook, we have “Platforms as Cultures,” an evaluation of the different services available to us and how to distinguish what’s optimal from what’s available. Her lesson speaks to the value of participating in a community and how it can shape the work of an artist. César Barceló provides the illustration for Jennifer’s article.

David Cole offers a new perspective on data and the opportunity it affords designers in “Made to Measure.” In his lesson, David describes the three criteria to hit when looking for a job. David’s article is illustrated by Tim Gough.

Paul Ford expands the histories of our software in “On File Formats, Very Briefly.” In his lesson, he discusses what happens when the world appears on your doorstep – or device of your choosing – and how to cope. Philipp Dornbierer produced the artwork for Paul’s piece.

Big Announcement on Thursday

We have a major announcement to share with you on Thursday. Sign up for email updates or follow @themanual on Twitter to be the first to know.

And as always, thank you for being part of The Manual.

Announcement

Issue 4 Arrives in Early October

We’re excited to share that Issue 4 of The Manual has shipped and is being printed. Although we’re expanding beyond print (more on that next week!), this is a big moment for us, and we want to share some details about the issue with you.

Six New Authors, Beautiful New Design

Issue 4 marks the beginning of a new three-issue volume and features six articles and six lessons from voices you’ll recognize: Jennifer Brook, David Cole, Paul Ford, Diana Kimball, Wilson Miner, and Craig Mod. All have smart, reflective takes, and we’re looking forward to opening them to a broader community.

The print edition of our new issue has a completely new design by Frank Chimero of Another. It comes in a beautiful A5 hardback format with a foil-stamped, full cotton cover and is printed on 96 pages by Oddi, our trusted longtime printer in Reykjavík, Iceland.

It will be available in our shop toward the end of September for pre-orders and begin shipping in early October — but if you’d like a sneak peek, check out Wilson Miner’s article, “Perennial Design.”

Issues 1–3 on Sale for a Week

To celebrate the new release, we’re offering Issues 1, 2, and 3, along with our custom engraved plywood case, at a discount until Friday, September 5th:

On Monday, we’ll tell you more about the articles and lessons in Issue 4, as well as the illustrators who helped bring each piece to life.

We also have a big announcement coming on Thursday next week, so join our mailing list and follow @themanual to stay tuned!

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