Can Good Design Save Online Media?

A few design tenets online media outlets can follow to encourage slow, careful reading of important content

Artemis Ward
Modus
Published in
4 min readNov 1, 2019

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The New York Times‘ digital experience is best consumed slowly. Photo: David Smooke/Unsplash

By Ryan Hatch

AtAt a conference in Denver recently, New York-based creative director Jeffrey Zeldman gave a talk he called “Slow Design for an Anxious World.” The world in question was that of the wide web. In short, Zeldman says this anxious world is built for speed, and speed can be good. Speed online is good when filling out an address form or trying to pay for sneakers.

But speedy digital experiences don’t always translate to pleasant ones, particularly when deeper concentration is needed to understand and digest complex information, as is often the case when consuming news. To illustrate the point, Zeldman included in his presentation screenshots of several websites: the New York Times, Washington Post, the New Yorker, ProPublica. All of the sites, he argued, were enjoyable experiences at least in part because they provide readers with the chance to immerse themselves in the content.

He was right — the sites were a breath of fresh air in a landscape littered with pop-ups and autoplay videos. But why? What, even at a brief glance, made these experiences “good” beyond the absence of full-screen surveys and male enhancement display…

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Artemis Ward
Modus
Writer for

A global digital-first agency partnering with brands to shape what happens next. • artemisward.com