Type:
Interactive
Client:
The Guardian
Year:
2019
Role:
Art Direction, Design, Illustration, Front-end
Awards:
D&AD Wooden Pencil, SND, Malofiej
Type:
Interactive
Client:
The Guardian
Year:
2019
Role:
Art Direction, Design, Illustration, Front-end
Awards:
D&AD Wooden Pencil, SND

The internet but not as we know it

At the end of 2018 more than half of the world's population went online. Tim Berners-Lee raised a glass, whilst I spent 8 weeks trying to comprehend Chinese microblogs and piece together an article with some 90s nostalgia.

The brief for the project was: “What’s life look like online in India, Cuba, China and Russia?” The tricky part was creating something that looked and functioned in a cohesive way, whilst remaining true to each nation.

I presented two routes:
1. A safe option with illustrations of each country
2. A wild design packed full of animations

The editor’s feedback was: “We want it to be as sexy and maverick as possible.”

Taking this as a green light for option 2, we set to work; starting with India.

India

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market, with more than 200 million users. By starting with its familar format, the reader would instantly know this wasn’t a regular news article and start scrolling.

An illustration of WhatsApp chat bubbles

Extra touch

The time of the messages are at your computer's time

China

In China, Weibo dominates in place of blocked pages like Google and Twitter. I included elements throughout this section which referenced the site’s animated icons and the flickering of neon signs that are synonymous with East Asia.

Cuba

Over in Cuba, access to the internet is limited and expensive. Locals receive delivery of media through an external hard drive known as “The Weekly Packet”.

This was where the idea for pixelated design came from; as screenshots of The Weekly Packet showed it running on an old version of Windows. The design heavily leans on how Windows 3.11 looked and functioned.

An illustration of VK
A moving eye
A blinking eye

Russia

Meanwhile in Russia, the Government promotes local companies such as Vkontakte (a popular Facebook-like social network). The state’s relationship with Vkontakte is controversial; A handful of users were charged with extremism after police searched their online accounts for political content.

This section has has added characteristics like being able to like each post, add The Kremlin as a possible friend and eyes always.

Outcome

Overall, the article did really well. The project went on to win a D&AD Wooden Pencil, an SND, an Malofiej and was featured in Creative Review.

The part I'm particularly proud of is the viewing time is over double the amount of a regular interactive. As the piece is so visual and unusual, people got drawn in and enjoyed scrolling to the very end.

Page views over 24 hours

Page views data graphic

Median attention time over 24 hours

Median attention time data graphic