We have a new look — and strategy — for the Knight Lab's blog

Knight Lab's responsively-designed relaunch

I am so excited to pull back the curtain on our brand, spankin' new blog design and I'm not sure that we could be more eager to get going. It is a pretty new toy that, in contrast to our old site, will allow us to participate more substantially in the dialogue that is already taking place within our geographically diverse community of journalism-technologists.

More importantly, our new name, visual identity, redesigned and re-launched blog are all symbolic efforts of the significant shift in strategy and focus since we first launched our web presence less than two years ago.

New name, new branding and visual identity

First, you have probably noticed that we have modified our name. Northwestern University Knight Lab is shorter and friendlier than our previous name and it comes with a tagline to help us better communicate our mission: Advancing news media innovation through exploration and experimentation.

My office, and orange walls, in Evanston
Second, we’ve developed a new logo, introduced a brighter, more energetic color palette and a more congenial typography palette that we think is a reflection of not only the Lab, but our little journalism-technology community as well. We even painted the walls in our Evanston office space the Knight Lab orange! Stop in for a visit.

The new site design places a more significant emphasis on readability, usability and accessibility. While it will be an on-going, labor-of-love for us, we sure do hope you like it.

Professional fellows

We have been super fortunate to work with two professional fellows who are well-known, highly-credentialed members of Chicago's Web-nerd community — Aaron Salmon and Scott Robbin — over the past few months. They have been heads-down, hard at work on the Lab's new visual identity and branding, our site's redesign, a style guide and a front-end framework for Lab-sponsored projects.

We feel like we hit the lottery … Incredibly lucky, and blessed, to have them play such impactful roles on our team.

An army of hacker-journalist students

For the past six months, we have been growing our family, expanding the team of faculty, students, staff and fellows that contribute to the Lab's complete body of work: technology, and educationally-focused events and editorial.

In addition to our Ph.D. students, we've been offering fellowships to an army of graduate and undergraduate students who not only write and work on community building with us, they also contribute to the technology development. Pivoting to an increased editorial emphasis has allowed us to create more opportunities for students who are interested in finding a place journalism's technology future.

Currently, we have a student who tweets for us, a number of them who write, and quite a few who commit code and develop projects. Plus, this summer we'll be taking our first research intern who will contribute to our business development and product design research efforts.

New content, new strategy

As the Lab continues to evolve and grow we plan to use our nerd-blog to share as much as we can about what we are working on in-house — experiments, prototypes, projects, products and services — as well as news from around the industry.

You can look for updates on project development, lessons we’ve learned, and entry points into our code repositories. You can also expect profiles on interesting people, how-tos, and best practices from around the community.

We will focus particularly on artificial intelligence and information design — two areas in which the Lab has particular expertise. And, occasionally, we might share a team update or an event recap … you’ll be you'll be able to find it all here.

Our content strategy is illustrative of some of our core values: Community, outreach and education. As we move forward, we will continue to improve our project and content presentation, as well as evolve our content strategy. When it has matured just enough, we will share our "living" style guide as well as our content strategy and product development process documentation as a collection of resources for all. We hope that publishing these guides and documentation will be useful for web-making teams everywhere.

What will we be developing in 2013?

At just under 18 months in, the Lab has produced one stable product, deployed seven systems and 32 prototypes. In the coming year, in addition to our new editorial content and events, we are committed to the following core technology development and educational initiatives:

  • Social Loupe Project: Experiments and ideas realized into technology which seeks to find meaning and utility in social media data.
  • Reporters’ Notebook: These are tools, services and technology intended to help reporters practice journalism, be journalists. These projects and products are geared toward assisting in information gathering, data management, recording and correlating information found in online data repositories, virtual beat reporting, and more.
  • The Publishers’ Toolbox: These are tools and services intended to help with content publishing and aid in faster and easier web development around storytelling. Since 2012′s Timeline JS was so popular, we are in the middle of building a step-by-step mapping tool we hope journalists will find equally, if not more, valuable. We are also developing a in-text, embeddable audio player that works with SoundCloud. We have a couple other ideas in the hopper, but please don’t be shy if you have a request!

I am beyond honored to be a small part of this incredible team and truly inspired by the thoughtfulness put into the design of the Knight Lab's new communication tool.

About the author

Miranda Mulligan

Executive Director, 2012-2014

Latest Posts

  • Introducing StorylineJS

    Today we're excited to release a new tool for storytellers.

    StorylineJS makes it easy to tell the story behind a dataset, without the need for programming or data visualization expertise. Just upload your data to Google Sheets, add two columns, and fill in the story on the rows you want to highlight. Set a few configuration options and you have an annotated chart, ready to embed on your website. (And did we mention, it looks great on phones?) As with all of our tools, simplicity...

    Continue Reading

  • Join us in October: NU hosts the Computation + Journalism 2017 symposium

    An exciting lineup of researchers, technologists and journalists will convene in October for Computation + Journalism Symposium 2017 at Northwestern University. Register now and book your hotel rooms for the event, which will take place on Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14 in Evanston, IL. Hotel room blocks near campus are filling up fast! Speakers will include: Ashwin Ram, who heads research and development for Amazon’s Alexa artificial intelligence (AI) agent, which powers the...

    Continue Reading

  • Bringing Historical Data to Census Reporter

    A Visualization and Research Review

    An Introduction Since Census Reporter’s launch in 2014, one of our most requested features has been the option to see historic census data. Journalists of all backgrounds have asked for a simplified way to get the long-term values they need from Census Reporter, whether it’s through our data section or directly from individual profile pages. Over the past few months I’ve been working to make that a reality. With invaluable feedback from many of you,......

    Continue Reading

  • How We Brought A Chatbot To Life

    Best Practice Guide

    A chatbot creates a unique user experience with many benefits. It gives the audience an opportunity to ask questions and get to know more about your organization. It allows you to collect valuable information from the audience. It can increase interaction time on your site. Bot prototype In the spring of 2017, our Knight Lab team examined the conversational user interface of Public Good Software’s chatbot, which is a chat-widget embedded within media partner sites.......

    Continue Reading

  • Stitching 360° Video

    For the time-being, footage filmed on most 360° cameras cannot be directly edited and uploaded for viewing immediately after capture. Different cameras have different methods of outputting footage, but usually each camera lens corresponds to a separate video file. These video files must be combined using “video stitching” software on a computer or phone before the video becomes one connected, viewable video. Garmin and other companies have recently demonstrated interest in creating cameras that stitch......

    Continue Reading

  • Publishing your 360° content

    Publishing can be confusing for aspiring 360° video storytellers. The lack of public information on platform viewership makes it nearly impossible to know where you can best reach your intended viewers, or even how much time and effort to devote to the creation of VR content. Numbers are hard to come by, but were more available in the beginning of 2016. At the time, most viewers encountered 360° video on Facebook. In February 2016, Facebook......

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More