Designers as user advocates: My talk at #sndstl

I’m thrilled to be speaking this weekend at the Society for News Design annual shindig in St. Louis. My topic is a really happy marriage of the two primary focuses of my career: design and community engagement.

Turns out, they’re not so different.

Designers have long been speaking up for the consumption of information. For making information clear, accessible and enjoyable. That focus on the user experience is what I’ve always loved most about design, actually.

I’ll put my slides at the bottom of this post (though I’ve never made the kind of presentations that make much sense without the accompanying words coming out of my mouth).

The main purpose here is to share links to some of the projects and posts I mentioned in my talk. Usually, I make a custom Delicious tag and url, and just share that. But Delicious isn’t working so well these days. So here you go, folks who were in the audience today. And for the rest of you who stumbled by? Good luck making sense of this collection of randomness!

First, some links to my work and research

The final product of my RJI fellowship last year was a guide to help newsrooms talk about their audiences. It’s based on identifying what a newsroom values in its relationship with its community, and then asking questions about how those values are reflected in the newsroom’s processes and products.

The post of mine that explains the whole Dorothy/Wizard/Toto thing: So long, Wizard of Oz journalism. Let’s make margaritas!

Highlights from the survey I did of 500 daily newspaper editors. I mentioned the depressing statistic that only about half actually USE the analytics reports they get to help make news decisions.

Nieman Reports did a whole issue on community, and they published a piece I wrote about how I think journalists have an obligation to identify the people who most want and need their content and make an effort to find them and interact with them.

Other resources or projects I mentioned

Poynter’s EyeTrack07 research, which, among many other interesting findings, gave us some data about how readers respond to alternative story forms. Turns out, they actually remember more of what they read.

California Watch’s coloring book on seismic safety. Take the content to the right audience, in a format they can relate to.

The Rapidian’s ladder of community participation. Issue invitations, and make it easy.

The Chicago Tribune’s crowdsourced snow map. What story can we tell together that we’d never be able to tell on our own?

The Great Lakes Smackdown! Prod people to interact with your content, even when it’s a serious topic.

The Guardian gives readers credit in the form of a byline. How do you recognize when non-journalists have helped guide your work, or even contributed directly to it?

When should we get out of the way and highlight readers’ own words? The Washington Post used Facebook posts to tell a woman’s story. (Kleenex alert)

The slides, without the accompanying funny anecdotes, are below.

View this document on Scribd

6 Comments on “Designers as user advocates: My talk at #sndstl”

  1. Gonzalo Saavedra says:

    Bello, Joy:

    Nice presentation today, congrats! I learned and made me think a lot, thanks. I’m a journalism teacher from Chile and years ago, in the Minneapolis SND I saw for the first time the front page about Jerry Heidler escape that you showed

  2. Gonzalo Saavedra says:

    …today. Would you be so kind to share the image of this front page?

    Thanks in advance,

    Gonzalo Saavedra

  3. larrybuch says:

    Awesome presentation, Joy.

    Another example of community engagement is RealSimple magazine’s 20 easy dinners ( RealSimple is the absolute, hands-down king of reader service.

    They provided recipes and a shopping list ( broken out into 2 awesome categories (what you might have, what you need) for 4 weeks. If you cook the meals in the order they suggest, the food you buy will stay fresh. They also encourage readers to submit photos of completed meals. My girlfriend and I have completed the first week and it’s saved us time and money and we don’t argue over what we’re going to eat. Whoever gets home first cooks, then we eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

    Just awesome.

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