#SNDMakes: Emojis and more

I spent last week in Washington, D.C., at #SNDMakes, a “boutique prototyping event” sponsored by the Society for News Design. I was lucky enough to be one of 60 designers, developers, and visual storytellers from newsrooms around the country who participated in the event.

My team designed EMOJINIUS, an emoji annotation system. We were exploring how we could add value to a story by making audience engagement easier and more visual – so we designed a Medium-style, in-line commenting solution that uses emoji instead of text comments.

Comments are often damaging rather than constructive. And sometimes you can say it better with an emoji. They’re fun and delightful — and have evolved into a legitimate visual language. There's an opportunity to lower the barrier for audience engagement, and create a safe experience for capturing and exposing even anonymous responses.

It was a lot of fun working with Ellen, Anne, Ryan, and Claire on the project. Our team’s collective skillset was heavily slanted toward design and UX, so we spent a lot of time talking through scenarios and use cases, and less time developing a proof of concept. It was cool that the event had such a design focus – we didn't feel overly pressured to churn out a bunch of bad code.

After the #SNDMakes event wrapped up, I stuck around for the rest of the SNDDC workshop. I especially enjoyed Martin McClellan's session on the UX design process for the Breaking News mobile app.

It was cool to see some examples of news-oriented product design. Working on mobile apps is a thing I'd like to do more of in the future, and it's always great to get a glimpse of another group's processes.

Oh! I also gave a lightning talk during #SNDMakes on making performance-based design decisions. It was my first ever speaking engagement. I must say I was pretty intimidated to be speaking in front of such an amazing group, but I was pretty happy with how it turned out. The content was definitely the most technical (read: boring) of all the talks, but I still got a few laughs from the audience so I'll call it a win. 🎉