The Mario Blog
01.25.2012—4am
Financial Times and “distilled storytelling”

TAKEAWAY: Now that the successful Financial Times series, Capitalism in Crisis, is finished, Kevin Wilson, head of design, explains the concept of the “barcode” as a visual foundation to carry the series from one segment to the next.

Update #2: Wednesday, Jan. 25, Vienna, 08:40

TAKEAWAY: Now that the successful Financial Times series, Capitalism in Crisis, is finished, Kevin Wilson, head of design, explains the concept of the “barcode” as a visual foundation to carry the series from one segment to the next.

When creative visual thinking works well

blog post image

blog post image

blog post image

blog post image

blog post image

blog post image

We have been highlighting interesting use of info graphics and visual concepts to tell stories in the blog lately. One recent such post was about the use of a “barcode,” a familiar symbol, to illustrate a series of articles about the world’s economy in the Financial Times.

This week I have received a mail from Kevin Wilson, head of design at the FT, who was pleased to see my reference to his team’s work and wanted to let me know. In addition, Kevin has sent me the complete set of pages from that series: a wonderful, surprising collection of pages that are the textbook case study of how to treat a story graphically.

I was impressed by the subtle, but direct, use of the barcode as a graphic element that created an instant element of recognition in the series, and told Kevin that. Here is what he had to say:

“From the scene-setter (the collapsing barcode), to the US angle, to the contrasting fortunes of western and eastern economies, to the political consequences, to alternative models based on partnership, and finally to possible fixes … the barcode shuffling back into line, the concept began as a straightforward logo but I thought it was a neat way to solve the problem of giving the series a distinct identity – created by in-house graphic artist Lloyd Thatcher.”

For those of us who observe and study graphics and design, the Financial Times examples show us all about the ultimate definition of good visual storytelling:
Creative. Free of decorations. Tells the story at a glance.

Kevin has used an intriguing term in his correspondence with me: distilled story-telling

I asked him to amplify on it:

The distilled story-telling is an approach I try to bring to our big feature pages. Each day we’re confronted with heavyweight analysis, often on subjects that don’t suggest obvious visuals (credit default swaps anyone?). So we try to get to the essence of it with the visuals: does it always have to be told in a long story with one image (sometimes yes, and that’s fine)? But can we break it down into a storyboard of concepts and guide the reader through it that way?

And how does that represent the use of the barcode in that series?

The barcode came out of a discussion of what was the simplest but most widespread image to represent capitalism. In the past it might have been a price label – in a way this was an update. It had to be simple enough to use small as a logo but flexible enough to form the base of full-blown illustrations.

Getting that navigation storyboard right

blog post image

Tuesday I spent most of the day in Vienna with the team of the Kronen Zeitung’s tablet team.

Indeed, a good presentation of the first interactive prototype for the KZ’s new tablet edition, premiering in the spring. Here you see me going over the very important first step: navigation.
Working closely with our Garcia Media art director, Constantin Eberle, and the KZ team, headed by Robert Kuschela, we had started with a “storyboard” for the entire tablet edition, translating the contents of this, Austria’s largest circulation daily, and how it would flow in the tablet. Also helping us with the concept, Florian Fromm.

The storyboard diagram covers the entire wall, but it is the only way for a tablet team to get a sense of orientation, a necessary first step before one can tend to design and storytelling details.

Stay tuned for case study of the Kronen Zeitung new tablet edition, which will be curated and will be ready for download each evening at 6 pm. Presently, the Kronen Zeitung has a pdf tablet edition, extremely successful, and one that we will keep when the curated one appears.

WoodWing provides technical support for this project.

Of special interest today

People now watch videos nearly 30 percent longer on tablets than desktops
http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/12/people-now-watch-videos-nearly-30-percent-longer-on-tablets-than-desktops/

Apple reports massive 2012 results
http://www.theverge.com/2012/1/24/2730702/apple-reports-massive-q1-2012-results-with-46-33b-in-revenue

Highlight: On the software front, iTunes was responsible for $1.2 billion in revenue this quarter, and there are now 20 million songs in the store, and Apple says $120 million worth of downloads were sold on December 25th last year. Apple says by the end of this month, iOS developers will have earned over $4 billion in total from their work. Also, the new iBooks Author generated 600,000 downloads since last week’s release, and iCloud has 85 million users now.

– UK: ‘Historic’ Move for The Scotsman as iPad App is Launched
http://www.allmediascotland.com/press_news/32621/—historic—move-for-the-scotsman-as-ipad-app-is-launched

– UK: Murdoch to launch Sun on Sunday in April, says source
http://gordonsrepublic.brandrepublic.com/2012/01/23/murdoch-to-launch-sun-on-sunday-in-april-says-source/

– USA: Tablet/e-reader ownership doubles over holiday gift season, says Pew
http://www.knightdigitalmediacenter.org/news_blog/comments/20120123_tablet_e-reader_ownership_doubles_over_holiday_gift_season_says_pe/

– Connected Europe: How Smartphones and Tablets are Shifting Media Consumption
http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Presentations_Whitepapers/2012/Connected_Europe

– Tablets Are Prime-Time Media Devices
http://moconews.net/article/419-tablets-are-prime-time-media-devices

– Q&A: NewsRight’s David Westin on the value of news content in the digital age
http://www.journalism.co.uk/news-features/newsright-david-westin-licensing-copyright/s5/a547559

TheMarioBlog post #933
Blog Post06.27.2017—12am
Goldman Sachs and the economics of design
Blog Post06.26.2017—1am
Trump, lies and storytelling
Blog Post06.23.2017—1am
Here’s Exchange, the new Frere-Jones font: it projects calm, authority
Blog Post06.22.2017—1am
The word “redesign” should be retired
Blog Post06.21.2017—1am
IAPA’s Digital Summit 2017 opens today in Miami
Blog Post06.20.2017—1am
Senior citizens read news on their mobile platforms! Surprise!
Blog Post06.19.2017—1am
Italy: we create new logo for The Post Internazionale
Blog Post06.16.2017—1am
Forget the one headline fits all theory!
Blog Post06.15.2017—1am
Change in newsroom goes beyond just a protocol statement
Blog Post06.14.2017—12am
Telling the story with just quotes
Blog Post06.13.2017—12am
How US front pages displayed the Comey story
Blog Post06.12.2017—12am
Making those complicated Washington political stories more visually interesting.
Blog Post06.09.2017—1am
Attracting young audiences (2)–Snapchat Discover
Blog Post06.08.2017—1am
Montreal’s La Presse+ says adieu to print!
Blog Post06.07.2017—1am
Attracting those younger readers (1): one gift subscription at a time
Blog Post06.06.2017—1am
The battle for your ears
Blog Post06.05.2017—1am
Quick ways to tell stories
Blog Post06.02.2017—1am
Garcia Media turns 25!
Blog Post06.01.2017—1am
It’s social media the publisher
Blog Post05.31.2017—1am
Before you get the room, read the Airbnb Magazine
Blog Post05.30.2017—1am
It’s a new homepage for The Atlantic
Blog Post05.26.2017—1am
New book: Designing for Touch
Blog Post05.25.2017—1am
Medium redesigns homepage: curated content is the key
Blog Post05.24.2017—1am
It’s the new storytelling, the new editing, the new design
Blog Post05.23.2017—1am
Millennials and their obsession with their phones—publishers, take note!
Blog Post05.22.2017—1am
Spiegel Daily: the German magazine’s new product
Blog Post05.19.2017—1am
Another day, another Trump bombshell for the front pages
Blog Post05.18.2017—1am
From digital to print: another example
Blog Post05.16.2017—6am
Trump bombshell news lands on the front pages
Blog Post—1am
For The Guardian: one contributor at a time
Blog Post05.15.2017—1am
The New York Times banks on kids: never too early!
Blog Post05.12.2017—1am
Good guide to e-newsletters that catch the reader’s attention
Blog Post05.10.2017—2pm
The firing of the FBI Director on Page One
Blog Post—1am
Sarasota Herald Tribune gets new look
Blog Post05.08.2017—8am
The Macron victory in France through the front pages
Blog Post—1am
Tony Awards: And the winner so far…..
Blog Post05.05.2017—1am
And now Dubai has its own font!
Blog Post05.04.2017—7am
The NYTimes’ Sketchbook: great visual solutions
Blog Post05.03.2017—1am
The luxury of paper
Blog Post05.02.2017—1am
Trump: 100 days and the front pages
Contact us with speaking requests, questions or to discuss a project.