The Art of Logo Design

As mentioned here and here previously, the Office of Communications is presently developing a set of Identity Guidelines for HLS based upon those released by Harvard University last year.

The above video produced by PBS Arts OffBook, does an excellent job of explaining the art and science of logo design:

Logos surround us in digital and physical space, but we rarely examine the thought and artistic thinking that goes into the design of these symbols. Utilizing a silent vocabulary of colors, shapes, and typography, logo designers give a visual identity to companies and organizations of all types. From cave painters to modern designers, artists throughout history have been reducing the complex down to simple ideas that communicate with the world.

Watch it when you have a moment.

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Harvard branded custom URLs from

Would you like to avoid having to use long URLs like this one in print and online?

In print publications, you’re asking your reader to do a lot of work to type a lengthy URL correctly, and for something like Twitter, every character counts. offers custom URLs for Harvard sites

The online link shortening tool is great for creating custom short links, and through an agreement with Harvard University they now offer Harvard-branded, “,” URLs.

Any time you enter a web address into it will automatically generate the custom Harvard URL. We can turn this link:

into this:

How to:















To create your shortened URL:

  • Go to;
  • Paste your URL;
  • Your shortened Harvard URL will display, from any “” or “” link.

It’s that simple.


Another important note about Not only can you create these custom shortened links at, but if you register for a free account you can then track the number of clicks the link gets, where it was referred from, and the location of the user. This can be a valuable addition to your web metrics.


Posted in Brand Guidelines, Content Management System (CMS), Web | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Content First design: Good web design starts with content


Jeffrey Zeldman on stage at An Event Apart via Wikipedia

Many web design processes begin with a conversation around visual design. What will the site look like? What aesthetic will best reflect the stature of our organization? I want it to look modern. I want it to be blue. I want the logo to be bigger.

Jeffrey Zeldman and his contemporaries argue that a better approach would be to focus on Content First — start with content and design out from there.

We in the Office of Communications are advocates of the Content First approach and have employed it during consultations with campus partners about new online projects for HLS. We also take time to discuss and understand your goals, guide the process with them in mind, and talk with you about how to measure online activity against them.

Making the case for Content First

Any initial, superficial thrill of “approving designs” as a first step in a web design process rapidly disintegrates when those visuals aren’t backed up with a comprehensive content strategy that takes your staffing model and operational goals into account.

Visual designs that were developed using placeholder lorem ipsum text cannot accurately accommodate the “real” content that you plan to upload later, nor can it anticipate how your readers might need to view and use that content.

Furthermore, no longer can we control how people will be viewing the web content we publish. We live in a world of multiple sized screens and people are starting to personalize how they read web content and in what format, not just where they read it.

Focusing on the content first allows web designers and clients to really understand what they are trying to convey and how best to convey it on the screen.

Get the Content First cheat sheet

Content First was the topic of Zeldman’s opening keynote this morning at An Event Apart in Austin. Luke Wroblewski, software engineer and user interface designer, published excellent notes summarizing Zeldman’s presentation today on his site. Some of the salient points from Luke’s summary include:

    • Design without content is decoration. It used to be that you worked on look and feel before you thought about content. But it’s actually very hard to do design without content.
    • It’s important to have a style that is appropriate but hard to develop that style without an understanding of content.
      • Mobile first = user first = content first. This is the way all our Web sites should be made. Thinking mobile first forces you to only keep what matters in our sites. We have to think about usability & content because people on mobile have very little time and screen space.
    • It’s not just the visual experience that you might not be able to control. If we don’t design to be friendly to content, our users will find a way to make the content friendly anyway. Through tools like Instapaper and Readability, people are time and design shifting to experience your content the way they want. This is the evolution of readers taking control over their reading experience.

Further reading:

Large Type: One Web Designer Puts Content First in a Big Way, Forbes, May 20, 2012


Posted in Content Management System (CMS), Content Strategy, HLS Sites, Web, Web Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer reading: Harvard Law Bulletin

Coverjunkie just featured the Summer Harvard Law Bulletin. This issue of the Bulletin (recently mailed to alumni and distributed on campus), highlights HLS initiatives—including a look at far-flung and homegrown student projects undertaken through the School’s Environmental Law Program—and legal trends, such as the changing role of the General Counsel. It also tells stories of the HLS community. There’s the Holocaust survivor who became a human rights judge; two alumnae, an ocean apart, who have been elected mayors of their hometowns; and the alumnus who became widely known as the guy who wore pajamas in the Justice Department.

In addition to the stories within its pages, the issue highlights more than a few good summer reads. There’s Ken Mack’s look at the creation of the civil rights lawyer; Jed Shugerman on the history of judicial selection in the U.S.; and Jack Goldsmith on the accountable presidency after 9/11. If you are in the mood for “quiet,” there is Susan Cain’s [’93] manifesto for introverts, and if the fast lane is where you roll, try the new book by Todd Buchholz ’86: “Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race.”  Within Class Notes (in the print version), you will find numerous mystery novels and thrillers and several biographies. There is even a “two-sided” love story: “The Thorn and the Blossom” has an accordion binding that lets readers choose whose side of the story they want to start with each time they read.

In the next issue, we plan to write about the HLS experience of Mitt Romney ’75 and Barack Obama ’91. If you have related stories to share, drop us a line.

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