When is Design Not Visual?


Design goes beyond what things look like. It’s about problem solving.

During the When Design is Not Visual session Heather Chaplin, Tyson Evans and Mark Hansen spoke about the changing media of news and how design goes far beyond what you see on a page.

Meet the Panel:


DSC_0021Mark Hansen: Mark Hansen is a professor of Journalism at the Columbia school of Journalism. He is also the East-coast Director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, collaboration between Stanford’s School of Engineering and Columbia’s J-School.

Tyson Evans: Tyson Evans is an editor for newsroom Strategy at the New York Times. He is also on the SND board and has taught at DSC_0030Columbia University’s graduate school of Journalism and the d.school at Stanford.

Heather Chaplin: Heather Chaplin is the Director of the Journalism + Design progDSC_0036ram at the New School. She has received two grants from the Knight Foundation. Heather describes herself as “not a designer” and “the last person you would want to layout a page.”

During the “When is Design not Visual” this concept was discussed by a panel of experts mediated by Shanza Nessa, the director of journalism at the Knight Foundation.

Nessa asked the three panelists about their thoughts on a variety of things surrounding non visual design starting with where they thought design is not visual?”

“The entirety this conference is about how journalism’s challenges are design challenges.” Tyson Evans said. “There is nobody better suited than designers to solve the issues that we are facing.”

The panelists spoke about how design is about more than just what you see on a page. It’s a way of solving problems. Everything has to be designed.

Technology has changed the way we use design. It tells it’s own story. We cannot do not decide what a push notification looks like, or how a video plays in Facebook, Evans said.

20 years ago building news pages happened in a bubble. People didn’t care if pages had 5 column grids vs 6. But with technology people want their experience across different platforms to be a certain way. “We are all swimming in the same water now,” he said.

Heather Chaplin said that she is struck by the optimism and playfulness of designers in contrast to reporters.  “I was one of the people that got into reporting because I was very skeptical and didn’t believe anything anyone told me and thought the world was a horrible place and I needed to rectify it,” Chaplin said.

The panel concluded with an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and share thoughts encouraged by the three speakers. As Evans put it “I don’t think any of us will pretend to have the answers”