Working on magazines is both exciting and frustrating. Exciting because one has the pleasure of selecting and presenting the very best and most relevant of information. Frustrating because there is always extra information that one would like to provide for readers.
Offering that something extra is, of course, one of the strengths of the internet, where pages and pagination are in a sense infinitely extendable. Still, spaciousness should not be confused with randomness.
Readers need to know that the site they visit will present them with information that they want in a format that is quick to use and relevant to them.
By bearing this in mind, AJ Plus has become a tremendous success. It is now followed by AJ Specification, a specially tailored tool for architects to find out about the products that have been used in buildings.
Since AJ Specification was launched at the Stirling Prize, it was appropriate that the buildings shortlisted for the prize should appear on the site. Building studies are the core of the AJ and also of AJ Specification, and four out of the seven on the shortlist (including the winner) had been AJ building studies. But AJ Specification is designed to be as inclusive as possible and, building study or not, all buildings receive the same comprehensive treatment. This includes the Stirling shortlist.
The core of the thinking is that architects should be able to get to products through buildings, either because a particular building inspires them to find out about the components used, or because they were struck at the time by some aspect and want to go back to find out about it later.
AJ Specification makes sourcing products in this way easy. As well as description, photographs and drawings of buildings, it has comprehensive lists of subcontractors and suppliers. Click on any of the manufacturers and, at the very least, a 'business card' appears. This gives the address, phone numbers and web address of the manufacturer - readily available on one site. Certain manufacturers have signed up to a more comprehensive service, which allows you to access a range of their services - listings of buildings in which they have been used, case studies, online product literature etc.
Of course, if you don't want to link to products through a particular building, or can't remember what the building was, you can find your way to products in a different way. You can search by building type or, more conventionally, through a listing of product types.
But the underlying principle of AJ Specification is that it is designed for the visual sensibility of architects. Have a look at www. ajspecification. com and you can find the Stirling shortlist, some of the most inspiring buildings in the country, and learn about the products used in them. And if those buildings do not provide the sort of inspiration you need, then search through the hundreds of other buildings on the site.
There is no right way or wrong way to use AJ Specification. The only mistake you can make is not to use it at all.