In collaboration with Chris Sullivan, I designed the reading experience for Ideas, The Atlantic's new section of opinion and analysis-driven pieces.
We needed to define what Ideas as a section would mean to readers and writers and convey it in an elegant, seamless reading experience that fit with The Atlantic's brand and spirit.
- Surveyed designs on competitors' opinion sections, with a focus on opinion signaling, author bylines, and recirculation modules:
- Bloomberg, New Yorker, NPR, Wired, Medium, NYTimes, Washington Post
- Interviewed Ideas writers to determine what the section meant to them
- Provide visual distinction that's different from regular coverage
- Convey more nuanced depth and analysis than a normal article
- Showcase the author's experience, perspective, and qualifications
- Emphasize the author to build familiarity and trust with the writer
I created different author byline treatments to sit on our article pages.
We conducted two types of user tests:
- "Ideas" article label: what type of article do readers think of when they see an 'Ideas' label, and how is the label interpreted within the page hierarchy?
- 29/40 said the article was opinion, the rest said news/investigative
- 5/40 users called out the 'Ideas' title as a clue it was opinion
- Author bylines: how does the author bio affect memory recall of the writer, and are they more likely to seek additional articles by this author?
- Users had better recall of an author when a bio and/or photo was present (no difference between b&w vs. color)
- Current byline offers no meaningful signal about author