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Wednesday 07|16|03
AOL Blogs

As I am sure many of you know by now, AOL is releasing a blogging product this summer. I have not spoken about it yet because of confidentiality reasons and then when I finally got the ok to write about it, I got really busy at work.

So, it's true. We are doing blogs. And the best part of it is that my team out here in California, did the UI work. As bloggers ourselves we have been equally excited about designing a product we will actually use and terrified that the rest of the blogging world will trash the product up one side and another. Even when we work on great ideas, with good UI and a lot of thought and research, there is inherent backlash because we are AOL.

So you can imagine how pleased we have all been over the response to our "sneak preview" with many of the blogging trend setters (Meg Hourihan, Nick Denton, Anil Dash, Jeff Jarvis, and Clay Shirky). Mena, over at Typepad, has a few words to say and Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky say a few favorable words.

That's not to say that folks won't find things wrong with what we have done. But that said, we have been extremely concerned with blending the essence of what blogging is and what the AOL member needs.

As a Moveable Type user, I can honestly say it was hard to simplify, simplify, simplify the ideas down to their essence for the first time blogger. In brainstorm sessions, I had to keep reminding myself what I was like when I first made the leap into blogging (thanks Blogger) and that this will be a great tool for our members—even without all the advanced hosted stuff I am using now.

While this isn't a revolutionary product, we have been working to make sure the basics of blogging are there. In addition there a bunch of integrated things in the tool that can only come from AOL.

Some of the neat things that will be in the release: integrated photo albums with our YGP (You've Got Pictures) product, ability to send a blog entry to your blog via an AIM bot and the ability to leave a blog entry via AOLbyPhone which shows up as a little sound file. And of course the blogs will show up in Search.

We went into Beta today and I can't wait for the world to check it out.

Posted by erin at 07:21 PM | in Interaction Design


Hi Erin!

I thought I remembered your name from the early days of dezineCafe (

We're still around, if hibernating.

The Design Digerati listings are still live, though, and I see your listing is an early one indeed, from December 1996!

I really ought to get a blog thing going there. We were the first design community online, but I've got too many non-computer interests to follow-up on!

I'm really enjoying Boxes & Arrows, as it helps me to define and to understand what I've been doing all these years ;-)

Lately I've been working with the web team at OrganicValley ( to help focus the visual and editorial continuity. It's a great bunch of folks, and you'd never know it would be so much fun working for a bunch of farmers ;-) (OV is a farmer owned cooperative)

Thanks for the good work, and congratulations on your successes!



Posted by Peter Fraterdeus at July 17, 2003 08:41 AM

I've looked at only two AOL Journals so far but they all seem to share the same CSS file, and they all share the same problem: the text is WAY TOO SMALL.

Looking at the CSS, here's the offending line:

td {font-family: verdana; font-size:.7em; color: #000000}

Can you tell your coding team to bump this up a bit so the default font size is more readable in browsers other than IE on Windows.


Posted by Cam at July 17, 2003 01:59 PM

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