SND Digital: Marshall Project, Quartz judged World’s Best

Digital design cues change every day as new ways to experience the news crowd the landscape. Time is the variable that has not changed, which makes it more precious than ever. With that in mind: What are the signposts for success? And to what standards should we aspire?

Here are the signals:

  • Meeting the audience where it’s gathered.
  • Engaging members of a community of interest.
  • Having a clear — often narrow — focus.
  • Creating gorgeous, useful experiences.
  • Respecting users by solving problems.
  • Being ambitious and audacious.
  • Acting like a trusted source, not merely a publisher.
  • Indicating what’s worth it — news that’s the most important can be finished.

Why we picked Quartz

Quartz exemplifies what a medium-sized news organization can achieve. The low-key ambition here is admirable and creates a frictionless experience.

The content and delivery inside this narrow business vertical are superb — and the team is finding unique, surprising ways to engage with a passionate community, by meeting needs for readers and advertisers alike. The team is also fearless at eradicating things that don’t work and experimenting wildly.

Why we picked The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project has nailed every. Single. Thing.

The publication has an incredibly strong design language that works in every place it manifests itself — on the web, on mobile, on social, in email newsletters. All in a beautiful design vocabulary that travels easily from place to place.

The newsletter isn’t just well-designed, it’s an excellent example of the kind of publishing that we all should aspire to – brief and useful, with way-pointing to deeper dives if needed. The email hosts cover their beats, not just their stories. It’s great to read, and informative even if you don’t click a link. (Unlike most email newsletters and social accounts — and homepages for that matter — which are pure promotion.)

The site itself, with incredible attention to detail, is a standard-bearer for the industry and a shining example of less is more (check out how they use that X!)