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Radio Free Europe

An open redesign

A few weeks ago, Tim Kadlec, Matt Cook, and I went to Prague to kick off a new project with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, an organization that reports the news in countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. What they do is so important that people have been arrested or even hanged for accessing their content.

After spending two days with the team there, I’m convinced that they are some of the most thoughtful and sharp clients I’ve had the pleasure of working with. They’re doing some incredible work to bring content to as many people as they can. They get hundreds of millions of monthly page views and serve about 150 news sites over 60 countries. They’re doing some really smart things regarding progressive enhancement, performance, content management, and more. They’re also facing really hostile environments: some of their users’ fastest speeds are on a 2G network through mobile devices where wifi is non-existent.

They asked SuperFriendly to work with them to optimize their designs and code, which we’re honored to do. Even more exciting, we’re doing the entire project in the open, writing up parts of the project along the way from as many perspectives as we can. Kim Conger, design director for RFE/RL has kicked us off with her initial thoughts on the project’s background. Look for lots of topics here, from details and templates for proper performance budgeting, Arabic typography, converting Pattern Lab to .NET, and lots more. We’ll be eating our own dog food by using Pangea—the homegrown CMS that powers the RFE/RL site, in addition to its other services—to blog, so we’ll actually be in the same environment we’re helping to shape.

What would you like us to write about? What parts of this process make you the most curious?

Keep your eyes peeled for updates. Follow @tkadlec, @mattecook, or me for the latest and greatest. Or keep checking back at

Check out Tim’s perspetive in his post, “Reaching Everyone at Radio Free Europe.”

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