The Medium is the Message

One of the major reasons I redesigned this site is because I needed to stay relevant to the creative community. If I’m going to continue to appeal to creative people, I need a creative looking site design.

Since the new design has been implemented, engagement has risen across the board. I’ve had more rss subscriptions, more page views per visitor, and other interesting stats that say that the new design is helping the livelihood of the site. The email newsletter has become much more popular in both opens and subscriptions since the previous design, and conversation is fantastic in the article comments.

It’s safe to say that the new design has had a positive effect on the site.

Last Summer I read Flickering Pixels, a wonderful book on how technology has shaped faith over time.

In the book, the author Shane Hipps gives an example of how Christian church pews didn’t really exist until after the Bible was printed. Congregations would gather and sit in a semi-circle around the speaker in unorganized clumps. Once the printing presses were mass-distributing Bibles with neat, evenly spaced type, churches starting mimicking their sanctuary designs after the typed rows. They added pews in rows that resembled the columns of text that filled the Bibles.

bible layout
church layout

Sometimes the medium can have a bigger impact than we might think.

It’s not like the content of sermons changed in churches once they added a more structured layout. The content on this site hasn’t really changed either since implementing the new design. But in both cases, the changes to the medium changed the message.

In order to really make an impact, you have to think about your medium. How your message is presented can make all the difference.

If you’re a blogger or writer, it’s a great idea to think about how your content is structured. Do you want lists? Or would telling stories mean more to your community? It may seem like a minor thing to the person doing the writing, but to a community it can make a big difference.

I’ve started reading my posts as a previewed draft after proofreading them. This allows me to see what the post looks like on the site, before it’s actually published. Oftentimes I’ll remove or add things just based on the way it looks. Because in a text editor, a post (or story) just doesn’t feel the same.

People pay attention more to the finer nuances than we give them credit for. Tweaking the medium just might be the thing that draws them in closer to the message. The medium is finely interwoven with the message, whether we like it or not.


In an attempt to personally make the LifeDev design (aka the medium) better, I’m revamping the email subscription layout. Previously it only delivered the article headlines with a snippet of the post with a “read more” link. That has now changed. You can read entire posts from the email version, and I’ll be uploading a more LifeDev-esque theme for the newsletter in the very near future. If you’d like to receive these articles via email, it’s a fantastic way to stay in the loop.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how the medium has impacted your message in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.

Update: Nathan informed me that the title of the post is actually a reference to Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan was the first to really hammer home the point that the medium actually embeds itself in the message. Good stuff.

Photos by Steve C and Rodrigo Vera

Leave a Comment

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • celestial elf July 19, 2010, 12:03 am

    re the medium is the message,
    thought you might like my marshall mcluhan machinima film,

    re blog posts, like machinima the answer is ‘just do it’ (like nike too)

  • Eduard @ People Skills Decoded June 21, 2010, 12:04 pm

    Hey Glen,

    My way of saying this is: everything that happens is feedback. Take it, use it. Of course, this is much easier said than done, especially since our emotional buttons can often be pushed by some feedback so we react ineffectively to it.

    PS: The blog looks awesome in my perspective. Very simple and logical.

    • glen June 21, 2010, 12:33 pm

      My way of saying this is: everything that happens is feedback. Take it, use it.

      I love the way that sounds. Excellent point.

      Thanks for the kind words on the design Eduard!