John McWade

John McWade is the founder and creative director of Before & After. For those of you who are new to all this, John in 1985 was the first desktop publisher in the world, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that began as the original beta test site for Aldus PageMaker and continues to this day. For more on that story you'll need to read Issue 1, which is in its third printing.

Design Talk arose from side conversations with readers.

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Today the English version of Wikipedia, the “largest encyclopedia in human history,” is closed to protest two bills currently in Congress that are intended to stop or curtail online piracy.

If you haven’t done so already, click over to Wikipedia and you’ll see the power of good storytelling design.

Wikipedia is closed in protest

You’re standing in the dark. No photos, no color. Simple text on a dimly backlit screen casts forward a long, low-in-the-sky shadow that fades into the blackness and conveys the impending, almost-here darkness of “a World Without Free Knowledge.”

Simple, clear as a bell.

No SHOUTING. No sensational, alarming headlines. No hype, no hand-wringing, no clichés, no over-the-top bleakness. They could have done all that. Instead, they’ve done the job with design — the black, the fading light, the low-key text. Calm, dignified, serious, powerful. Even inexpensive.

Hat's off.

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