The Where, The Why and the How The Where, The Why and the How

Book Trailer: “The Where, The Why, and the How”

Cartoon Brew just launched its first major redesign in five years. We’ve reworked a lot of the site’s elements, but one thing that we didn’t dare touch was our distinctive logo, which was created in 2007 by the fantastic design firm ALSO. They dropped me a line earlier today about their latest project—The Where, the Why and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science. The book, just released by Chronicle Books, combines science and art in a novel way:

A science book like no other, The Where, the Why, and the How turns loose 75 of today’s hottest artists onto life’s vast questions, from how we got here to where we are going. Inside these pages some of the biggest (and smallest) mysteries of the natural world are explained in essays by real working scientists, which are then illustrated by artists given free rein to be as literal or as imaginative as they like. The result is a celebration of the wonder that inspires every new discovery. Featuring work by such contemporary luminaries as Lisa Congdon, Jen Corace, Neil Farber, Susie Ghahremani, Jeremyville, and many more, this is a work of scientific and artistic exploration to pique the interest of both the intellectually and imaginatively curious.

Our friends at ALSO—Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, and Matt Lamothe—even created this fancy animated trailer to support the book launch:

  • I mostly don’t mind the redesign, it’s kind of nice to be able to “highlight” major stories, but what I don’t like now is that the space for replies to comments seems quite narrow, so narrow that by the third reply, barely three words fit onto a whole line, making it a little uncomfortable to read, and unnecessarily extending the length of the page to accommodate for the extra vertical space the comments now take up.

    • The comment system is temporary. The new one will arrive within the week.

  • Oh man! Now I have to click just to read one article? Then I have to click back to read more of the latest. That complicates and separates the way I access your content instead of making it easier. I know change is hard, but I preferred the usability of simply scrolling up and down and browsing and reading articles, then clicking into them if I was curious about the comments. I like the side boxes –> which are a good way to continue to feature articles after they move off the main page but I think that a standard blog format remains the best for your main article area.

    • We’re still working on the navigation for the article pages. It’s an evolution and we’re going to keep working on it for a while to come.

      In regards to the front page, it worked well when we started in 2004 and posted short stories. But our content has evolved in the past 8 years. We now do a lot of longer-form interviews, commentaries and picture galleries. Those aren’t served well by a long scrolling front page. Further, we post much more today than in the past, and we wanted a way to feature more content instead of having it never seen again once it dropped off the front page.

      • Regarding the too-long post issue: I see your reasoning Amid, but I think that your “click to read more” link at the bottom of the longer posts already was a good solution. Congratulations on the continued evolution of the site regardless, I’ve been reading since the Animation Blast zine days.

    • Eman

      Yeah. Not too crazy about that either. I don’t think a redesign should make things less convenient.
      Besides that, it’s a bit cleaner, which is…okay. I mean, I didn’t have trouble with the old design, but I won’t say no to it.

  • it’ll take me a little while to get used to this

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Got a nice surprise this morning! Love it!

  • Trevor

    Looks like it was redesigned with the specific intention of requiring more page loads for ad impressions. I guess I don’t blame you

  • Tory

    I must say I preferred it before. I like scrolling down to read multiple stories and hate clicking on links to take me to another page which all in all will result in reading less stories as I am less apt to click on links. I hate this trend in web design. I stopped using some sites because of similar changes but you hold a special place in my browser so I will keep coming back. I’d rather perhaps a dropdown box that expands when clicked rather than taking one to another page.

  • C.A.C.

    I’m with other commenters on this one. Visually, the change is nice, but I really liked being able to read all (or most) of the content on the main page. Being able to play the video imbed on the main page was also a huge plus.

    • The site is still a work-in-progress and will be for a while. You’ll be able to play many of the videos from the homepage soon, without extra clicks. Hang tight. We’re working on it!

  • A Melish

    It was fine before.
    Not a big enough improvement in functionality and design
    to warrant the change.
    Still a great site.
    Thanks for that.

  • Jody Morgan

    I noticed that CBbiz, CBtv, and the Twitter feed have disappeared from the sidebar; will any of them reappear? Aesthetically, I somewhat prefer the old look, but that’s just one old fogey’s opinion and I’m sure I’ll like this design better as I get used to it. As for the change to have the main page having nothing but the opening lines of and links to each post, I can see how it makes sense for the longer, more substantive articles, but it seems to work against the silly little posts where y’all can highlight the latest bargain-basement CG misadventure, the most ill-advised licensed merchandise, or the latest ignorant statement about cartoons from someone who knows nothing about the subject yet works in the industry.

    I guess the old design gave me more of a free-form vibe, while this one is more regimented and uniform; if that’s what you want, more power to you, but I’ll miss the days of knowing I might be greeted by some fresh oddity or some newly-found treasure from the past when I clicked on the site’s bookmark, rather than seeing a small preview of and link to the same. (I don’t know how to explain that it’s different; it just is, somehow.)

  • i agree with what everyone’s saying, embedded videos drives a lot more traffic and is super accessible, and seeing the contents of each post in the frontpage is the best way to make people interested in the posts.

    makes sense to have a ‘read more’ appear after a certain cut off point, but it shouldn’t be mandatory.

  • flipthefrog

    I usually read everything on Cartoon Brew daily, or at least skim through each post quickly. With this new design, I’ll just read the headlines and maybe read the whole post every now and then. Please please add some JavaScript stuff to expand the articles (including an “expand all” option). You could also have longer excerpts from each article, at least the most recently posted ones.

  • Harder to view on mobile- which is where I usually check. That book looks really cool.

    • The custom-designed mobile version of the Brew will debut next week hopefully!

  • Dave-id

    I understand how much time and energy it takes to do a redesign of a site. But I agree with some others here, this site wasn’t in need of it. It worked well and I really like it before… now, not so much. It looks and feels like so much else on the web now…. ugh.

    I’ve never even posted that much, just enjoyed the site and others comments. But this I feel I have to say. Bring back full stories on the front page somehow. Please.

    • Dave-id

      Ooops, missed a “d’ on “like” in my third sentence, it should of course read “liked.” Now it’s obvious why I don’t post much. ;-)

  • Vik

    It would be great if the Search feature would finally work properly.

    And it might be nice to eventually add a preferences pane for users so that they could pick what content they would like to read. Say, “books” and “tv” and “feature film” only.

  • I think it’s good, actually.

    But I also think the grey borders around alot of things (like the lines separating some menus or the grey block around this comment box I am typing in) could be a bit darker.

    They’re so bright they’re nearly invisible against all the white. And with them being nearly invisible also makes the frontpage elements with their big ol thumbnails seem to sort of run together. Which they aren’t, obviously but you have to squint a bit to see that.

    Actually I wonder if making the light grey a sort of greyish-pink like in the old OLD site design would look any good. Probably not. Probably just nostalgia talkin’.

    But overall I think this is a very nice design. It’s simple, concise, modern. And best of all it steers away from the “HURR LETS MAKE EVERYTHING LOOK LIKE AN IPOD MENU HYUCK” design that every damn website these days does.

    So good work, chaps. I like that you kept the red and dark pink button colors for the header and other things.

  • María Constanza

    Don’t you like colors anymore?