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Opinion: As It's Nice That turns six, here's some things we know...

Posted by Rob Alderson,

This week editor Rob Alderson celebrates It’s Nice That’s sixth birthday with six musings about online art and design publishing. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

On Wednesday this week we turned six, although embarrassingly we only realised this when someone sent us a nice card congratulating us on the milestone. We’re not massive ones for navel-gazing, but it did give us pause to reflect on where we’ve come from and where we might be going, and so in no particular order, here’s some things I thought were worth sharing…

There was no grand plan behind It’s Nice That

We get asked a lot about this, and the story about how Will Hudson founded the site as a student at Brighton University has been trotted out numerous times. But for me it remains one of our greatest strengths – we are able to be agile and nimble and take decisions based on what feels right at any particular time.

Getting bigger brings its own problems

The site now goes out to about 350,000 people a month, generating about 1.75 million page views. The flip-side of this growth – tied in with the sheer amount of content we post – is that some people won’t like certain things we are keen to showcase. And increasingly they are quick to let us know, which we welcome – we are always happy to explain why we think something deserved a place on the site.

And that’s why we don’t have comments

I would say one of the most common questions I’m asked is why we don’t have comments on the site. The answer is twofold – one; I am yet to be convinced that in the main, comments on art and design articles really evolve into genuinely enlightening debate, most of it tends fall into the “That’s lovely/That’s sh*t” categories. And two; we are worried that having comments on every post – and the ensuing negativity that often ensues – undermines the whole upbeat, enthusiastic tone we have built the site around. We are proud that we curate a little corner of the internet that is completely positive.

Quality control is imperative

Without this, the whole thing comes crashing down. People trust us to curate interesting, exciting and engaging creative work and we take that responsibility very seriously. Every post that goes up on the site is discussed among the entire editorial team, work is frequently challenged and a huge amount of things we are sent don’t make the cut.

It’s very important to practise what you preach

When we redesigned It’s Nice That a year ago we were very aware that our entire audience was going to have an opinion above and beyond the first reactions – a design-savvy community is always going to react to a redesign in a different way. That aesthetic consciousness has to permeate everything we produce across all our platforms. I don’t understand design blogs that are not nice to look at.

Standing still is not for us

In the past few weeks we’ve relaunched our magazine, Student of the Month and our London listings guide This At There. Before that there was the podcast, the Introducing… feature and these Opinion slots. We firmly believe you have to evolve or die. We’re super proud of what we’ve achieved in the past six years, but this is just the start.

So over to you – what do you want to see from It’s Nice That in the next six years? What do you like about the site? What are you not so keen on?

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Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

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