New York Times – Q&A with Design Director Khoi Vinh

Filed as Interviews, News on April 26, 2008 1:30 pm

Blogger Khoi Vinh, who blogs at Subtraction, is also the design director of the New York Times – where he leads a team of 11 visual designers, information architects, and design technologists that work on the user experience of nytimes.com.

He was interviewed this week in the New York Times as a part of their Ask an Editor interview series.

Here’s an excerpt:

I was wondering how much influence the design of other media Web sites has on your design choices for The New York Times’s Web site? For instance, I think The Guardian has one of the most visually appealing front pages of any online news outlet I’ve ever seen — though the underlying pages are not nearly as beautiful. Do you look for direction or inspiration from other sites?
— Todd Peckham

A. We definitely look at the competition from other news organizations, both for how design informs the way they present the news, and for how they’ve designed and integrated tools for making the news more useful to their audiences. (And yes, over at The Guardian, their creative director, Mark Porter, and his team are doing some really terrific work that we admire greatly.)

However, that’s only part of the homework we do. I think it would be a fallacy for us to think that we’re only competing for the attention of a discrete “media” audience. Internet usage is very eclectic by nature, and it’s the responsibility of my team to be conscious of that.

So, just as often, we draw inspiration from what’s happening in digital media at large, regardless of whether or not a news organization is explicitly involved, and often regardless of whether a given digital product deals in the news at all. That means that sites of miscellaneous classification like YouTube, Wikipedia, Craigslist and Facebook — and countless others, many of which might have only recently emerged from their founders’ garages — are of as much interest to us as top-shelf competitors like The Guardian and our other peers.

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