How to Write for Modus

Everything you need to know to become a designer-writer featured in Medium’s design publication

Killian Piraro
May 14, 2019 · Unlisted

Hey there, prospective Modus writer! If you’re reading this, it’s probably because 1) the editor of Modus wants to feature one of your pieces or asked you to write something new for the publication, or 2) you’re a designer who wants to drop some knowledge on the design community and you’d like to pitch a story idea.

This post lays out the stuff you need to know to pitch us stories and the nitty-gritty details of our publishing process. If you have questions, or if this all seems fine and dandy and you’re ready to get started, get in touch: modus@medium.com

(Please note: We get a lot of emails, and we may not always be able to respond to each one.)

Why write for Modus?

Medium launched Modus because we know that roughly 1 million readers come to Medium for stories about design, and we wanted to serve those readers better. We hope, in the process, to become one of the best sources for design writing on the web. To do that, we need your contributions.

Modus works a little differently from some of the other design publications you’ll find on Medium. Modus has a real human editor who combs the platform for the best design stories to curate into a solid collection. That editor also provides editorial support for your writing, editing each piece to make sure it’s as clear and polished as possible. When we publish a story in Modus, it claims a place in this curated collection, alongside the likes of Mike Monteiro and Jake Knapp. And because Modus is Medium’s own pub, our stories have the power of Medium’s social media presence and recommendation engine behind them.

What we’re looking for

This is our vision for Modus: We want to create a place where designers can read high-quality, practical, thought-provoking pieces that will help them be better at their craft. We want to go beyond the design-basics articles you can find anywhere on the internet and be a trustworthy source designers can rely on to help them level up their skills and knowledge, stay current on the state of the design and tech fields, and dig deeper into the areas that interest them.

That means deep dives into big topics like diversity, sexism, privacy, and design ethics; higher-level tutorials and tactical pieces on techniques and methodologies; advice on navigating a career in the ever-changing design and tech industries; and much more.

A note on word count: Designers tend to do this kind of reading at work, so try to keep your piece a manageable length for that setting. That translates to roughly 2000 words or a 10-minute read.

A few topics we’re interested in

Generally we like to let you, the designers in the field, let us know what’s interesting and relevant at the moment, but there are some topics that are safe bets if you’re looking for ideas.

As a general rule, we’re looking for a unique or “zoomed-in” view on a topic (like how body language can affect user research) or perhaps an unexpected mashup (like data visualization + history). We read a LOT of design articles, folks, so don’t be afraid to put your own spin on something.

  • Visual design: typography, variable fonts, processes and inspiration, colors, illustration, etc.
  • Inclusive design and accessibility
  • Diversity and sexism in the industry
  • The future of design
  • Data privacy
  • Navigating a career in design
  • UX writing
  • Voice interfaces and conversational design
  • Information architecture
  • Niche domains: government, healthcare, enterprise, specific age groups
  • AR and AI

What do we mean by “design”?

Design is a slippery thing to define, as it’s made up of a tangle of intertwined disciplines and areas. But the unifying factor for Modus is the concept of user-centeredness: Design is solving problems and creating experiences, products, and services with the user in mind. For the purposes of this publication, we’re talking about the broad categories of user experience design, user interface design, product design, and content strategy.

In addition, because the real-life experience of designers always involves combining skills and knowledge from lots of different areas, we’re also interested in topics in the realms of visual/graphic design, software development, and career management.

How to submit your work

It’s easiest for us to assess whether your piece will be a good fit for Modus if you already have a draft that’s pretty well fleshed out—and of course, a finished story is best (it’s fine if it’s already published on Medium). But if you only have a story idea or an outline, we can at least tell you whether we think the subject matter will be suitable. Drop us a line at modus@medium.com.

Publishing guidelines & details

Editorial process

The editor of Modus will do an editorial pass to make sure your piece is as clear and concise as possible, and may ask for your feedback on the edits and suggestions before moving forward.

We may give your story a new, clean layout and visual treatment that may also include audio. This new layout will prominently display your bio, so we suggest writing one that’s clear, professional, and up-to-date.

Our copy editors will make sure your story follows our style guide and may reach out with further editorial feedback. Our changes may include adjustments to the headline, imagery, and clarifying edits to make your work look as good as possible.

Publishing details

Your story will be distributed via our metered paywall. Everyone on the internet can still read your story as part of their membership preview, which gives them three free stories a month. You’ll also have access to a Friend Link that gives anyone free access to your story, even if they’ve read all of their free stories for the month. Additionally, you can enroll in the Medium Partner Program to earn money on this and future stories.

Enroll in the Partner Program here

Your story will appear in Modus, the design publication on Medium, and will no longer appear in its original publication (if it originally appeared in a publication—for instance, UX Collective—and wasn’t published under your own account). The reason for this is that posts cannot appear in two publications on Medium at the same time.

Your story may be featured in our app and Daily Digest email, which is delivered to millions of readers every morning.

Your story will be featured at the top of all relevant topic pages (see a full list of our topics here). Topics power Medium’s personalized recommendations across our homepage, apps, and Daily Digest email.

To use an image in your story, one of these must apply: (1) you own it, (2) you have explicit permission to use it, (3) it is in the public domain or a clear fair use. If none of these are true, please let us know and we’ll replace the images.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re looking forward to reading your stuff!

Modus

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