Be nice. Or else.
You took some time to talk to me at 1871 last November when I was a product design student and I probably asked some dumb questions—thanks again!
I really liked the work you guys did for The Distance. Could you talk a little bit about the process of art directing for the magazine, and how editorial design compares with product design?
First and foremost, I love using GrubHub. Keep up the good work, because you guys keep my tummy full and happy.
I really loved working on The Distance because I had full control of the art direction and design process.
How it all started… - Jason Fried had long since wanted to start a new publication to celebrate long-standing businesses. So we decided to press on with this idea. - He asked if I wanted to run the show on the design side, and I gladly hopped on. - We hired a very talented journalist and writer in Wailin Wong to research, report, and write all of our stories.
About the first version… The first version of The Distance featured individual custom-art directed designs for every story. This was super fun, but super taxing. So much effort goes into designing unique layouts per story, it started to get a bit unwieldy. For me. I’m the one responsible not only for the visual design and art direction of each story and the site as a whole, but the code and development of the entire site, too! So I made a lot of work for myself up front.
Last week, we launched a brand new version. I’ve since redesigned The Distance to be more uniform, making it easier to hop to any story at any time. Visually, I wanted to lean more on the lovely work of our in-house illustrator, Nate Otto, and redesign the site so that it’s less about the visuals and more about Wailin’s writing. We’re really happy with the refined results.
On Editorial Design versus Product Design… Editorial design is one thing I was fortunate enough to study when I was a student. The careful consideration of space, typography, and an emphasis on the reading experience is really where Editorial design differs from Product design.
Editorial design wants to be read, consumed, and enjoyed. It screams, “Slow down. Read me!”
Product design wants to be used, and out of your way so you can focus on whatever task you have at hand. It whispers, “Hey, I’m here for you. Here’s where you want to go, I’ll be here if you need me.”
Both types of design if done well—like any great design—should actually go unnoticed.
Be nice. Or else.
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