The Intern Project – Part 1

To start, the first thing I’ve learned this week is that I will take a dry hot day (aka Colorado) over a humid hot day any time during the summer. As the heats been rising this week the design and development teams have stayed inside preparing to start internally pushing out parts of the mobile redesign. While that’s been their main focus, I have been meeting with the other interns to start making real progress on the intern project. The task for the summer interns was to produce a data-driven feature article that is applicable to multiple industries. Some essential tools for this project were examples and inspiration articles. While a data-driven feature sounds straightforward, it helped to see how other news companies have addressed these types of stories. My main resources for research were the Washington Post Graphics, New York Times Graphics and the Brookings Essays.

For this project there are five interns: data analyst, front-end development, editorial, audience development and myself, front-end design. All together we form a miniature editorial company. The project was presented to us broken down into five steps:

  1. Choose the topic
  2. Find data
  3. Build a story plan
  4. Report and design
  5. Build a publicity plan
  6. Present to the company

We are now on step four, as the past few weeks have focused on steps one through three. The hardest part of those three steps was to choose a topic with easily accessible data and a reasonable scope. A lot of our concepts either sounded really good on paper and then didn’t have data readily available, or had readily available data but were very broad and could easily get out of hand. The overall concept we chose to move forward with was the changing demographics of workers in specific industries.

Challenge

Once we got to step four I had to start finding inspiration and developing a game plan for the design of the story. Since the time frame for the reporting of the story is so short, we have found that all the interns have to simultaneously work on the project. The challenge for myself and the front-end developer intern is that we have to try and anticipate the types of things that will be needed to help support the articles.

Approach

Our process began with the front-end developer intern and myself sitting down and analyzing the current state of the project. We realized that while we knew the article topics we didn’t have a ton of specific information to go off of just yet. During our meeting we agreed on our expectation for what we could produce in the time frame and the goals for the articles. The second time we met we brought inspiration we had found and specific ideas concerning the article. I contributed ideas concerning: overall design aesthetic, data visualization inspiration, and examples of compartmentalized articles.

Results

My results are the examples and inspirations that I have found for the design concept.

Design aesthetic: The examples I found for aesthetic inspiration helped show the rest of the team what I am envisioning and what I felt was manageable in our time frame. I found that I was leaning towards examples with large usage of white space, vector based graphics and minimal color.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 3.09.46 PM

Courtesy of NY Times

Data Visualization: The aspects I focused on when looking for data visualization inspiration were examples with clear purpose and easy to scan. I also tried to find examples that were consistent with my intended design aesthetic.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 3.14.32 PM

Courtesy of NPR

Compartmentalized articles: These inspirations were helpful to show how to break up stories and have a consistent design across different ideas. Since the project consists of three articles with three parts, making each story unique yet still consistent within an overall design theme will be important.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 3.16.10 PM

Courtesy of Washington Post

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