Martin Belam blogged recently about Sunday editions of newspapers and how they are still special editions with different formats, different names and come with extra sections and magazines. He wondered,

“why, in the 21st century, you still need a different name for a paper printed on a Sunday?”

I don’t really have an opinion as to whether a paper should change it’s name on a Sunday but the concept of a special edition did get me thinking.

Why don’t more websites have special editions?

Bobulate has an evening edition. The Guardian has an amazing 1821 edition, which is lovely and I wish I could browse the entire site in that format. Those two are the only two websites I know of that have any kind of special edition concept.

Maybe the problem is simply that most people running sites don’t have the resources or time to create different look ‘n feel themes for different pages, for different users or for different times of the day. I guess most blogs, and probably most sites, are running on some kind of CMS and they typically don’t do much more than let you pick a single theme for the entire site.

Looking at the websites of established magazines is also interesting. Take Wired for example, each print issue has its own unique style and within each issue there are many different layouts and styles; their iPad offering is the same, styled different per edition and per page. In contrast, every page of their website is pretty much exactly the same, different categories do have their own header but everything else is the same. There’s the old saying that the Web isn’t print but what is so fundamentally different? Are websites uni-styled because of lack of motivation, lack of tools, or because there’s the belief that web users don’t want variation?