Sole Collector’s Kicksology: Professor K is back! Jason 27 Dec 2005

10 comments Latest by ek

Professor K, an original 37signals co-founder, and the man/machine behind the defunct Kicksology, has resurfaced. You can now find his legendary (and scandalously detailed) hoops shoes reviews at Kickology on Sole Collector.

10 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Peter Cooper 27 Dec 05

This is a great demonstration of how elegant design can improve textual content so significantly.

I loved Kicksology and read most of the reviews. The way it was laid out, and the whole feel of it made me interested in the shoes, even though I couldn’t really care for shoes before. But SoleCollector? The design is so drab I didn’t get beyond the first couple of paragraphs.

Robert 27 Dec 05

I used to read kicksology all the time! I had no idea there was a relation between 37signals and Professor K. Small world

JF 27 Dec 05

Yeah, Professor K was one of the original 3 partners in 37signals. He left in 2003.

Darrel 27 Dec 05

Wow. There’s a 178 page magazine about shoe collecting. I never knew…

Don Wilson 27 Dec 05

His site’s font is very large, which is obvious proof that he is a founder of 37s. ;)

Chris 28 Dec 05

I was an avid reader of Kicksology and now am an avid reader of 37Signals … what a coincidence. I’m glad to see there are(were) some ballers at 37Signals…

ek 30 Dec 05

Hey Peter, any thoughts on how we could improve to capture some of that interest the old design generated for you?

Personally, I think the Sole Collector design is pretty similar to, but having done both, I may be too close to make an objective assessment.

And Chris, JF used to be a baller too, but he’s getting flabby in his old age. ;-)

Peter Cooper 30 Dec 05

I’ve been looking at both Kicksology and Sole Collector to work out exactly what it is which makes me receptive to one, but a little distracted by the other. It seems that it might not actually be a problem with Sole Collector, but more than Kicksology had a few characteristics which I subconciously find useful.

It’s taken a while to realize this, but I’ve discovered that despite subpixel rendering and all those advances in on-screen typography, a larger sans-serif font will always beat a small serif. And, well, the fonts on the new site strike me as being a tad too small. Perhaps they’d work still as serifs, but still, it’s a bit small compared to the K.

Kicksology also seemed to encompass something mentioned recently here on SvN. That is.. bigger text means better text. Words per paragraph seem to be a lot lower on Kicksology, at least to enough of a degree that it counts. The line spacing is also a lot better on K.. the text is a little too tight for me on SC (FWIW, I’m using Safari).

Lastly, and I’d never have realized this without doing the side by side comparison I’m doing now, having a line running down the left hand side of the text really seems to make a big difference to me. I’m going to have to consider redesigning some of my text heavy sites now.. :)

On the plus side, the new “overview” box is a major improvement, although I can’t help but feel some people will want to see some sort of overview info at the top too. Often people in a rush will read these sorts of boxes before picking out the details in the review they want to read.

Keep up the good work!

JF 30 Dec 05

It’s true, I haven’t played hoops since EK was last in Chicago. Scary.

But, I just moved next to a park that has some nice hoops courts, so starting this spring I’m going to shoot every morning for an hour.

EK, I’m gunning for ya!

ek 08 Jan 06

Hey Peter, sorry for the delayed response on my part, and thanks for taking the time to provide such wonderfully constructive criticism.

On the move to a serif face, that’s something I actually spent quite a bit of time debating myself over. I generally tend to prefer the cleaner look of sans-serif faces on screen as well, but felt that a serif face would actually make for easier reading through longer articles (since much of the content on the site is re-purposed from Sole Collector, the magazine, I knew that a good chunk of it was going to be longer than the pieces I used to write-up for

I wonder if anyone else has any opinions on this? As per your feedback, though, one thing I’ll definitely work on is tweaking the line spacing to open things up a bit.

And on the line running along the left-hand side of the text on helping readability, that’s a really interesting observation. I suppose that in a book or magazine, the edge of the page and the spine serve this same purpose. That’s something I’ll have to think about.

Well, thanks again for the feedback — I really do appreciate it — and if you have any other thoughts, please feel free to add them here or send them to me directly at theprofessor(at)

As for JF’s hooping abilities, homey, you haven’t balled ‘til you’ve balled Corvallis style! That’s right, we come correct out here in Granola-ville — no beaver, no foul is our motto (I think I just made a lewd remark).