Type:
Interactive
Client:
The Guardian
Year:
2019
Role:
Art Direction, Design, Illustration, Front-end
Awards:
D&AD Wooden Pencil, SND
Type:
Interactive
Client:
The Guardian
Year:
2019
Role:
Art Direction, Design, Illustration, Front-end
Awards:
D&AD Wooden Pencil, SND

The internet but not as we know it

At the end of 2018 more than half of the world's population went online. Tim Berners-Lee raised a glass, whilst I spent 8 weeks trying to comprehend Chinese microblogs and piece together an article with some 90s nostalgia.

The brief for the project was: “What’s life look like online in India, Cuba, China and Russia?” The tricky part was creating something that looked and functioned in a cohesive way, whilst remaining true to each nation.

I presented two routes:
1. A safe option with illustrations of each country
2. A wild design packed full of animations

The editor’s feedback was: “We want it to be as sexy and maverick as possible.”

Taking this as a green light for option 2, we set to work; starting with India.

India

Has over 200 million users of WhatsApp and more than 50% of people are functionally illiterate, so communication through audio, images and emojis is key. Rumours are shared regularly through chat groups, leading to a lot of “fake news” being believed.

This was the perfect place to start, as using mobile chat messages as a device let readers know this isn’t a regular news article and started them scrolling.

Extra touchThe time of the messages are at your computer's time

China

In China, Google, Facebook, Twitter and the majority of Western media are blocked but the locals don't mind because of the Chinese alternatives.

I wanted this section to be crammed full of exaggerated animations as a reference to Weibo (a popular microblog). The blinking pull quote is a nod to neon signs found in cities like Beijing.

Cuba

Over in Cuba, access to the internet is limited and expensive. Locals receive delivery of media through an external hard drive known as “The Weekly Packet”.

This was where the idea for pixelated design came from; as screenshots of The Weekly Packet showed it running on an old version of Windows. The design heavily leans on how Windows 3.11 looked and functioned.

Russia

Meanwhile in Russia, the Government promotes local companies such as Mail.ru and VK (a Facebook clone). The state’s relationship with VK is controversial; A handful of users were charged with extremism after police searched their online accounts for political content.

Heavily referencing Facebook, this section has little touches like being able to like each post, add The Kremlin as a possible friend and eyes always subtly watching.

Outcome

Overall, the article did really well. The project went on to win a D&AD Wooden Pencil, an SND and was featured in Creative Review.

The part I'm particularly proud of is the viewing time is over double the amount of a regular interactive. As the piece is so visual and unusual, people got drawn in and enjoyed scrolling to the very end.

Page views over 24 hours

Median attention time over 24 hours