JSHOP Reporter Q&A: Google News Lab’s Michael Grant on design strategy with NABJ

By Madison Williams 


Because this year’s NABJ-NAHJ convention is virtual, Michael Grant has been bouncing around from screen to screen instead of running room to room. 

He has been doing several live training sessions for convention attendees in his role as a Google News Lab teaching fellow. He’s in live meetings as a member of NABJ’s Print Task Force’s Synergy Team, and he’s busy helping with the long-awaited redesign of NABJ’s website and a new app.  

Somehow, Grant found enough time to tell the JSHOP Reporter how the NABJ web redesign, expected to debut this fall, is going.  

Q: What made you want to start designing websites? 

A: When I started as a print designer back in 2004, I could see by 2006 that things were already moving to the web. And so, you know, I was curious about it. And part of what I wanted to understand was how are we going to tell our stories that we like — the stories that we tell, visually in print, how do we do that online? That was my biggest question. And it’s that question that led me to become a web designer, particularly in journalism. I’ve always been interested in how to tell stories visually.

Q: How did you get the job to help create the new NABJ website?

A: They’ve had that current website for like a super long time, with minor updates. So, it’s a super old platform, not mobile optimized. Like if you go on your web browser, you have to scroll down and double-tap to zoom into different parts of it. So, it’s super old and not user friendly. And so, I’ve always wanted to have a strike at redesign in Photoshop, every design on the website. So, when I saw the RFP (Request for Proposal) open up, I put together a proposal and shopped out an agency in particular that I wanted to work with, and it all came together. 

Q: What are you working on with the app? 

A: We wanted the app to allow people to download it to their smartphones. And that way, we can do things like push notifications and alert people. And an app would be very pleasing to the user who really enjoys having apps. But yeah, it’ll also be a website, too. So, we’ll be optimizing the sites.

Q: NABJ has more than 3,000 members. How will you make this accessible for all of them?

A: So, we took into account a number of things like text size. We also took into account being able to scan and see the information packaged in a clearer way. And so, with 3,000 members or better, I mean, that’s the members alone, but you don’t have to be a member to visit the NABJ website to also kind of stay up to date. 

We wanted to build a site that was more easily scannable and readable and really starts to shift toward producing content in a more uniform and consistent way. I think there’s only like a handful of different photo sizes that work in the current website. 

So, we’re really breaking from that and going with a more updated method of presenting content and information. So that all went into account with the agency who was actually doing the design side and the production side of building the website. We made a ton of considerations.

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