The Coudal Partner’s site has always been one that I’ve admired not only for its content, but for its design. A relatively popular site, it is one of the few examples of Times being used to great effect. A typeface most designers naturally avert from due to its default status. However, it is pressed into excellent use in the headlines around the site, at just the right size, just the right line-height, and just the right amount of negative kerning. I would venture to say the headlines are my favorite thing about the site, but there’s plenty more to admire.
What really separates the main headlines from the pack is the seemingly perfect amount of
letter-spacing, at a full two pixels it may seem extreme in the stylesheet but it’s perfect when rendered. Accenting the main headlines set in Times are categorical notations in Gill Sans. Although, you may see Verdana. But that’s one of the best parts about Coudal, rather than resort to a PHP script or sIFR, they’re happy to make use of the primary styling technology and allow the
font-family to substitute similar fonts when the primary font is not available. This simple technique is often overlooked due to strict brand guidelines, or our own bias as designers to be absolutely perfect across browsers; or perhaps that it just seems too easy. 24ways has an excellent article on the subject of font stacking if you’re interested in learning more.
The site makes extensive use of rules as well. Many sections of the site use variations of the column based layout, but all of them share the same structural elements which makes every page continue to feel as part of the cohesive whole. The site mimics a newspaper and the attention to hierarchy is obvious. The most recent article on the home page is larger than it’s previous siblings, and on pages where there is no time based hierarchy the primary content is given a proper focus. The site includes a plethora of different types of content, ranging from video, to imagery, and various lengths of text. But all are handled masterfully. The main banner area is flexible and handles video on some pages while retaining a more traditional approach as a banner image on others.
The site mimics a newspaper and the attention to hierarchy is obvious
One would think with nothing but shades of grey, a wheat gold, and the occasional dash of red that maintaining an intriguing design would be difficult but the simple color palette is just another element that ties the entirety of the site together.
Or lack thereof. There is little to be critical of but something that does irk me a bit is the lack of white-space between headlines within content as seen above, at times things feel rather claustrophobic. Also, something that has evolved over time as blogs have become more prominent is the use of a headline as a permalink to the article, it’s somewhat frustrating that the headlines here are not linked to their respective articles. The forum skin seems rather lacking considering the attention to detail placed elsewhere, and the typefaces used within it don’t quite match up with those used elsewhere.
That all said, the site is a brilliant example of what can be achieved with a unified feel even across different layouts. The design has not changed much over the years and it’s easy to see why; an exemplary site for newspaper based sites.Want more? Check out the archives for previous reviews, and don’t forget to subscribe for future reviews, posted weekly.