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So long, Joe

By Chris Kaminski | December 3rd, 2004 | Filed in Design

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After over 8 years of publishing one of the top web design ‘zines going, Joe Gillespie is hanging up his text editor.

Along with sites by former WaSP project leader Jeffrey Zeldman, David Siegel and Lynda Weinman and books by the latter two, WPDFD was part of the canon of early web design. Joe’s clear, concise prose and conversational style made quasi-techie topics like bit depth and antialiasing accessible to the art school set. As a result, WPDFD was both introduction and inspiration to a generation of web designers.

Throughout the second half of the 1990s, Joe could often be found in places like the old Webmonster Web Design mailing list, diligently anwering all manner of design-related questions from newbies and battle-scarred vets alike. Joe never failed to be friendly, informative and patient. While WPDFD earned him fame, his contribution to various web design communities earned him respect and admiration.

In 1998, Joe teamed up with my erstwhile employer, Tomas Caspers, to found Browser Buddies, a spiritual forerunner of the WaSP. Later that same year, Tomas lent a hand with the early WaSP efforts and Joe returned to his work on WPDFD. That year saw WPDFD transformed from a collection of tutorials into a full-on ‘Zine and it’s been home to some of the best practical web design writing ever since. From its pages, Joe has been a tireless friend of web standards and best practices.

Joe is also famous for his contributions to web typography. His Mini 7 was the first widely-adopted ‘pixel’ font designed specifically for the web. It has inspired an entire typographic subculture and countless variations, but none has surpassed its legibility and utilitarian beauty. While pixel fonts today are more often than not an illegible affectation, back in 1997 Mini 7 was a vauable tool in legibly cramming captions and the like into the scant space available on 640 x 480 displays.

I found WPDFD not long after Joe started it in mid-1996. It was Joe’s site that introduced me to the intricacies of palettes and the rendering of fonts on-screen. He’s been a hero of mine ever since.

Good luck, Joe. You will be missed.

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