Quartz: Everyone in the Company is a Designer

Design was not an afterthought when Quartz, the digital-native business startup, came into being in 2012.

Design is in the company’s DNA.

“The core principle of Quartz from the beginning has been, one, that design would be at the core of what we are and of our brand,” said Zach Seward, the vice president of product and executive editor of Quartz. “And two, that we would attempt to empower everyone in the organization to be a designer.”

Seward was speaking at an afternoon session on Friday, April 10, at the SNDDC 2015 conference in Washington, D.C.

How Quartz delivers on its promise of making everyone a designer is simple — it puts the tools and control in the hands of its writers by making them write in the CMS.

“We mandate that a writer write in the CMS out of conviction that a writer should be as close to the finished product as possible,” he said.

Seward said that he was a firm believer that one’s writing should adapt as much as possible to the medium in which it is appearing.

“The closer the writer is to the means of production, the better the finished good, the better the results and the readers can tell,” he said. “They can tell if this thing was written for the Web or it was written for print, if it was written for a phone or a desktop. … And as a result, as a writer, you are designing as much as you are writing.”

This goes for the words a writer chooses to tell a story, as well as the placement of photos and other elements in the CMS.

“The fact that we require our writers to make these choices, to find the photo themselves, to insert it in the specific place and not to make that a separate part of the production process is fundamentally what distinguishes the type of journalism we’re trying to do from some other places,” he said.