Michael Workman, digital designer

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Michael Workman is the digital design director at the Boston Globe.
Michael Workman is the digital design director at the Boston Globe.

Michael Workman is the digital design director at The Boston Globe, where he oversees the design and user experience of BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com. After getting his bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Workman started as a copy editor at the Virginian-Pilot and made the transition into design. He joined the Baltimore Sun in 1998, where he spent 14 years, mostly as a print design director before moving over to digital. He moved to the Globe as a digital products designer at the end of 2011, and was promoted to his current position in August of 2012.

Workman’s involvement with SND began years ago when he “scoured the Best of Newspaper Design book for inspiration in the days before pages were widely available on the internet.”

A few years later,” he said, “I attended my first SND conference and met some of the people behind those pages that inspired me.”

How has your involvement with SND helped you grow professionally or personally? As I prepared to make the transition to digital design in 2009, I attended a quick course sponsored by the Society. It was a great introduction to the web that helped me feel more comfortable in my first few months on the digital side.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? The best career advice I ever received was to wear a tie every day to work. Just kidding, although I still do. I had two early bosses who were stylish dressers, so I guess that gave me the impression that design acumen was somehow associated with personal presentation.

Instagram or Vine? I definitely prefer Vines to Instagram. I like my video short, and auto-looping. But Instagram does have an existing platform with a huge audience.

What typeface would you be? Not so long ago web designers could only answer Arial or Georgia! It’s exciting to see the explosion of great typography on the web. It’s indicative of how young a medium the web is that we are just now seeing wide availability of the typographic tools we need to give a site the same sort of identity that a print product has.

What’s one thing you want people to know about you? I singlehandedly elevated the Orioles to the playoffs in 2012 by leaving Baltimore after 14 seasons of futility while I lived there. Meanwhile, my first summer in Boston was the Red Sox’ worst season since 1980.

HRDATABASETell us about one of your favorite projects. One of my favorite projects to work on was the home run database I helped create for Baltimoresun.com. It was my first project as a web designer, so there are a lot of things I’d change now about the design. But I found that I enjoyed solving usability problems in the same way that I enjoyed solving problems in print design. In both disciplines, the designer is an advocate for the reader or user. We approach every project with an eye toward how our readers will use the design, whether in print or online.

Looking back now at the original comps, the final result is remarkably close to what I designed, thanks to the work of Dino Beslagic, the developer on the project. I also included my first sketch for the Eutaw Street tab, which came out well but didn’t have the map of home runs that I had hoped for. We did run the map in the paper on the Sports front.

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