I looked at censorship, chat messaging, the early internet and Big Brother as references. I chose to focus on pixel design in order to tie together four very different countries.
India is WhatsApp’s biggest market, with more than 200 million users. By starting with its familar format, readers instantly knew this wasn’t a regular news article and started scrolling.
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.
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; screenshots of "The Weekly Packet" showed it running on an old version of Windows. The design was inspired by how Windows 3.11 looked and functioned.
Meanwhile in Russia, the Government promotes local companies such as Vkontakte (a popular Facebook-like social network). Their relationship is controversial: a handful of users were charged with extremism after their online accounts had been searched by police. after police searched their online accounts for political content.
This section included additional features such as the reader being able to 'like' each post, add The Kremlin as a 'friend' and an animation of 1984-style eyes watching.
I was particularly proud of the article's viewing time – over double the length for an average interactive. As the piece was visual and unusual, people were easily drawn in and enjoyed reading to the very end.