Wednesday Dispatch

Last night, I dreamt that my best friend and I were two of the Andrew’s Sisters. We were singing on a USO stage with–and here’s where things get relevant–a giant banner of the Cornell logo behind us. Common sense suggests that, perhaps, I have been spending too much time thinking about style guidelines for using the new insignia on the web.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to change any time soon.

There are currently three major things going on here in the OWC. (The astute among you will no doubt count on your fingers and discover that the whole of the OWC is made up of two people at this juncture?)

#1. Work has begun on the Admissions Site.

#2. Work continues on the back-end improvements necessary for Phase 2.

Incidentally, this seems as good a place as any to mention the fact that we’ve made the right connections with the folks who run the campus directory and will be making tweaks to our searches to improve performance and results. There are a few bugs right now that we hope to resolve sooner rather than later.

#3. The Identity Site. Obviously, this will need to be updated (and expanded) with the upcoming launch of the spiffy new logo.

Chermayeff will be providing Cornell with a detailed set of guidelines for use in print and Will Morris (of the WPG) and I will be adapting them for the web.

Sounds easy, right?


There are all sorts of issues to contend with in this area. How big? How small? One color? Many options? Red on white? White on red? Black on white? Banner? Component? How much real estate is reasonable for us to take up on the web sites of individual colleges, units, and programs? 70 pixels? 65? 68? What about the folks who have just put a lot of money and effort into site re-designs that were working with the old red box? Is it reasonable to ask them to change their design again? Is there a grace period? How long?

Chermayeff will give us lock-ups for how college and department names should be displayed with the logo in print. Do these apply to the web? Can they? If not, how do we allow for combinations of identifiers and retention of individuality without winding up with the first half of any given web page being devoid of content?

There’s also a new language to learn and figure out how to teach the Cornell community. Seal. Emblem. Insignia. Logotype. They all seem like synonyms on the surface, but, in fact, they all mean something very specific and you can derail a conversation mightily if you slip and use the wrong one in the context of coming up with these guidelines.

My head, it spins like Linda Blair’s. And you should all send Will cookies or pizza (or beer, maybe), because he’s the one having to wrestle with these decisions on the design level. I mostly just get to sit there and mutter.

So there’s policy that needs to be solidified and then there is the website to build. By October 28th which is a scant 36 days away. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

This is important stuff. It needs to be done and done well and we need to make sure that campus web folk are given the best possible tools to work with. It’s a great challenge–one that I’m sure we’ll rise to–and the outcome will resonate through the university for years to come. Intense. Exciting. Big.

Guess what? Deb and I got a standing ovation from the GIs in my dream.

Latching On to the Affirmative,



  1. John says:

    Thanks for the update. Do you have the authority to tell us if the new logo/insignia/whatever it’s called that will appear on the website will be multi-color, or simply red and white? In my opinion, multi-color would be more ‘glorious to view.’ It worked well on the preview pages posted long, long ago…

    Also, is the new Big Red Book available online?

  2. Adrian Wong says:

    Yes, thank you for keeping us in the loop. Along the lines of the previous question, there will be copies of the logo, insignia, seal, [insert confusing non-synonym here], available in vector format, right? Right? :)

    That may be a viable option for Cornell websites which can simply scale it to their needs without worrying about pixellation effects and what not. Plus, lossless formats are always good.

    Best of luck!