Specifically, he thinks that too many online publications are too gimmicky, too self-consciously ‘web’ and have lost touch with the qualities that make a good print journal. So no advertising, no Flash, no wacky layouts or un-navigable sitemap. The NHR is designed to showcase the content, not the ingenuity of the designers.
All those ambitions are admirable – although it’s worth pointing out that they are the ambitions of any good web designer. I don’t think its necessary to invoke the idea of ‘a print journal on the web’ to see the merits of clean design, a clear layout and an emphasis on the content.
More seriously, for me, the emphasis on ‘print’ virtues has lead them to produce a site which not only looks like a print journal but looks like an old-fashioned one. The painting on the front, the typeface of the title and the general look of the thing all make it seem decades out of date. It doesn’t need to be bleeding-edge design, but it could certainly afford to be a bit sharper, a bit less stodgy-looking.
I nearly posted a comment to that effect on his blog, but it seemed like rather tactless timing.