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Khoi Vinh on design and news (spoiler)

Above is a wonderful talk from Khoi Vinh discussing the design and the news (not design of the news). His talk by and large discusses his team’s focus on a quality user experience for New York Times digital products.

Consider this a spoiler alert, but Vinh suggests that the journalism community is very focused only on good content. And while that is important, he certainly stresses that its value is greatly decreased without a quality experience.

The analog news formula was simple: journalism + presentation + distribution, he says.

But what is the formula for digital news? Vinh focuses much less on presentation (re: the RSS reader). The new factor is the user experience, the structure and format regardless of the platform.

Analog media is a document, he says, but digital media exists in conversation (21:17). It’s not just the reporting but the conversations of the people in it, experiencing it and around it. He compares this concept to a dinner party. The dinner party experience. The conversation is good because of the time, the food and wine over dinner. This is how Vinh thinks about news and design.
In digital media, it is a conversation. 21:17

“Great journalism is not enough,” he says. “Great journalism is not a substitute for great user experience,” and compromise is needed.

He says the opportunity exists for users to create their own digital newspapers. He outlines closing points that he foresees in the future of news and what I predict he is working on.

The future of news will be based on more open news.
Social networks will be a huge part of the news experience.
Gaming will be a part of successful news organizations (and finding sources).
Great user experience.

I want to tease out these four points. What does it mean and how does that fit into the way we value news in our lives today? I had not thought much about news in the context of gaming, though it is increasingly becoming a part of our casual lives. I also want to explore what it means for news to be more open (and how does that fit into the New York Times paywall?).

Thank you to Alexander Macedo for sharing this link with me.

Nina Mehta is a writer and product design leader in Brooklyn, New York. She began her design career in journalism and has been writing online for 20+ years. Nina is from outside Chicago and has since lived and worked in San Francisco, Berlin, London, and Tokyo. Learn about Nina at

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