This is the first in what may become a series of short posts, where I attempt to pick out the most significant developments of 2008.

There’s been a lot of rethinking of redesigning of newspaper websites in 2009, but my favourite development is boston.com’s The Big Picture.

The Big Picture brings size to the online world of newspapering, recognizing that this is different, visual world. It starts to break from newspaper website design that still seems more or less frozen in the late ’90s, even though we’re well into the broadband era.

The Big Picture breaks with newer conventions too, eschewing slideshows in favour of scrolling, making it easy to “flip” back and forth between images. The genius is not just in the presentation, nor the sheer beauty of almost every photo that has been published, but in the simple act of tying startling images together into a single, scrolling story.

If you look at enough of The Big Picture’s essays, you’ll notice something else: almost everyone of them has drawn a substantial number of comments, many of which offer some version of “I come here every day.” How’s that for building audience and establishing brand?

UPDATE: I love coincidences like this one: after I posted this, I came across Media Shift’s Big Pictures Help Tell Big Stories at Boston.com, an in-depth look at The Big Picture, with an interview with its creator, coder Alan Taylor. It’s all interesting, particularly his comments about getting newsroom buy-in for something created by someone outside the tent.

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