NewsPageDesigner at 5:
An interview with the founder

The NewsPageDesigner homepage, circa 2002

Remember when there was no NewsPageDesigner? Hard, isn't it? It seems like NPD has always been with us.

But SND's partner portfolio site came on to the scene just five years ago, launched in a small New England town by a tiny newspaper determined to create a community. And, boy, did they ever.

The Blog recently caught up with NPD mastermind Tim Frank, who was at the helm at the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, when NewsPageDesigner launched in 2oo2 (exact date fuzzy because it soft-launched). We asked Tim to talk about the origins of the now-influential site in a zippy five-question format to celebrate NPD's fifth birthday.

NPD's founder, who nows works at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, graciously agreed to explain what sparked the idea for the site in the first place, and he gave The Blog a sneak preview of the site's redesign, which will launch later this year ...

1) What made you think of doing the site?

"Back in the day," SND annuals were like gold in terms of seeing what the rest of the world was up to, especially if you were in small town Maine, but there was no way to see current work. I just wanted a way to see what everyone was up to.

I think it was Poynter that posted the 9/11 pages right after they were published. That was a moment of real global awareness in news presentation. I thought: Why not have that all the time?

Thankfully, the Sun Journal liked the idea and offered to host the site. Eric Kaiser, their web editor, programmed the site, and continues to work on it to this day.

2) Did you ever anticipate it would take off like it did?

No clue. We thought it would be really nice if we could get at least a hundred participants.

The site now has around 14,000 registered users from around the world and more than 123,000 pages online.

It just shows the enthusiasm that visual journalists have for their work. Humbling.

3) Many people say the site has helped shape the hiring process. Do you think that's for the good?

It's definitely good if you are looking to hire, but I admit if you have talented people on your staff, they'll be getting love letters from competitors trying to steal them away from you.

The cool thing is that visual journalists are becoming more marketable because of the exposure and some have even achieved a level of celebrity. (How many of us bookmarked Julie Elman's portfolio when she was at the Virginian-Pilot, for instance?)

4) Any event that caused the most uploads, or any regular things that cause surges in traffic to the site?

Even though the site was in its infancy, the first anniversary of 9/11 still holds the record for the most uploads for a single event. Aside from big news events, football previews seldom disappoint and you can always count on blockbuster movies.

5) What's next for NPD?

A complete overhaul.

Most importantly, Eric (Kaiser) is reprogramming the whole site to make it cleaner and faster. The new programming will also allow us to add new features like RSS feeds, favorites, multiple portfolios and better comment functions. It's also time for a visual update. (Tim tells us the changes will launch soon; we'll keep you updated.)

I'm also looking for more ways to get people involved. The guest editor program has been fun.

The redesign of NewsPageDesigner, launching later this year

The Blog extends the happiest of birthdays to NPD for five great years. Hats off to Tim, Eric and the Sun Journal for changing the way we all share work. We're indebted to you and look forward to that redesign. Happy Birthday, NPD!

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Blogger octavio diaz said...

well, heck yeah! Happy b-day NPD! Not only has it been the least expensive way to post portfolios for, ahem, job searches, but it has made making connections with other illustrators and designers a lot easier and more spontaneous-like!

Monday, October 22, 2007 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger NinaMehta said...

Will it have a social network? I would love it if I could message people directly.

Happy Birthday NPD!

Monday, October 22, 2007 7:00:00 PM  

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