How the Nationals changed sports design at the Washington Post

This afternoon, Brian Gross of the Washington Post presented “Play Ball”, a session in which he discussed various pages from the Post’s sports coverage of the Washington Nationals. Some items of interest from his talk:

1. 20-column grid

After seeing it used in a special section surrounding the opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, the sports design team decided to use the grid to set apart its playoff coverage. The pages featured a skinny vertical rail, which provided built-in space for small graphics, tables and charts. “It forced us to think about and add information,” Gross said. The grid also allowed for more white space on the pages.

2. Broadsheet season recap

After seeing similar infographics from sites like Infojocks and Chartball that provided a comprehensive, detailed look at team seasons, Gross and the Post team decided they wanted to undertake a similar project for the Nats. The graphic was in the works for a month. “The more you can get ahead, the more interesting things you can do,” he said.

3. What he would’ve done differently

Gross said he would have liked to consider from the outset how the coverage of the Nats existed digitally. By thinking digitally first, he said it would have been possible to post the data as the season went on and then compile for print at the end of the season.

4. Advice for students

When asked if he had any advice for students aspiring to sports design, Gross said that his advice was to understand the importance of planning and putting the content first.