For the last year and a half, I have been working with The Washington Post. My time was spent helping to establish WPNYC, a new design shop in NYC. My initial focus was a project called, “The Rethink”; the task to look deeply at the way the organization produces and publishes work. Later I turned my attention to exploring opportunities for new products.
( I’m now joining 18F. And I’m excited. )
The thread that ran through the work was a human-centered design process. I worked hard to nurture a culture that was based on observation, prototyping and iterative design, and evidence-based decision-making; all in the service of identifying and addressing real user needs.
Most of my effort was spent on things aimed at empowering journalists. That is, shifting more power to journalists. In my initial conversations with people across the newsroom, the toll taken by both years of austerity and restrictive third-party proprietary software became clear.
The high-caliber journalists employed by The Post are its competitive advantage. By helping them do their work more easily, with greater visibility across the newsroom and a deeper understanding of how (and if) their work is reaching and impacting their audience, they become enlisted in the process of reinventing the organization in fundamental ways. With greater capabilities, more responsibility, richer collaboration, and deeper audience insight, the newsroom becomes more responsive to the needs of their users and a wellspring of solutions in the tumultuous world of news in the digital age.
These principles were at the heart of my work on Storybuilder, WebSked, Knowledge Map & Notes, and other products. As The Post continues its work on Arc, I hope these ideas carry through. Great journalists paired with tools well suited to the task is a powerful combination.