The New York Times Refresh Is About More Than Aesthetics

NYT redesignThis week, one of the world’s most respected newspapers, The New York Times refreshed and re-launched their digital platform to mostly positive reviews. Fast Company characterized the visual refresh as somewhat exciting compared to the previous decade-old design. Others pointed to the back-end changes, re-styled pages and “sections” and navigation adjustments as necessary moves to moor the company in the rough waters of decreasing sales, increased competition and slackening advertising rates for digital newspapers.

We generally like the design and navigational changes. The look and feel of the refreshed home page is less like the “swarm” of ink of the old design and presents a clean, measured and even engaging experience. With the new navigation features, scrolling through an article no longer requires clicking and reloading into new pages, which made for a choppy reading experience. But beyond the aesthetic, and even the functionality improvements of the refresh, what we find most interesting about the new site is what the changes say about the status of The Times in our culture and the newspaper world.

“We are seeing a company retool and experiment in the laboratory of design, media and branding, and in the end, this is about larger strategic issues,” Kate Canada Obregon, Oishii’s Head of Research and Strategy explained. “The New York Times is actively pursuing its once coveted leadership role in our changing world, and is using the discipline of design to get there.”

Oishii’s President and Chief Creative Officer Ish Obregon agreed, pointing out how even small details like the new smooth integration of the comments alongside the articles, which he says creates a “rich and textured” feel to the reading experience, is all part of a bigger news delivery goal. “From a design perspective, this is a very small step toward a blog look, without losing the power and stature of the new,” Ish said. “And great design strengthens the delivery of news.”

The Times has arguably been one of the most important leaders in the distribution of news. As it wields such formidable power, it also creates and shapes expectations about reading, how we get our news and how we recognize what’s important.

The New York Times redesign is a way for it to once again be a leader in reimagining news, reading and information delivery. Its role has always been to report facts, tell stories and inform us about our world, but in this new digital era, it’s also subtly taken on another role – to deliver “all the news that’s fit to print” through a fresh, innovative and powerful design harnessed through the most creative use of technologies.


Delicious Minds: Gina Young

Gina YoungHappy New Year! Please meet Gina Young, one of our copywriters at Oishii:

1. What was your first paying job doing what you love?

My first real, grown-up writer job was for Pop Up Video on VH1, which was exactly as fun as you would imagine it to be. But the first time I remember getting paid to be creative was when I was in fourth grade. I got to leave school early (no way!) to sing a song in a real recording studio… and from that moment on I was so eager to get out in the real world and learn by doing. I quickly became the kid who was always writing and self-publishing zines, making music and putting it out on cassettes, or putting on plays with my friends. Do-it-yourself all the way.

2. What inspires you in your work?

Language itself, I think. Writing is like problem-solving; rearranging words, and with every word you add or subtract you can completely change the meaning or the feeling of a thing.

3. What are your favorite types of projects?

My favorite types of projects are things that haven’t been done before, or things that have only been done in a way that I want to turn on its head. I’ve been writing a lot for the stage lately (see links below), but I also like writing web content and am working on a feature-length screenplay.

4. What is your ideal working environment?

I do my best writing on trains and public buses. Coffee shops can be nice too, because it feels like a co-work space where a bunch of us are all writing together. I’m very excited to finally — this weekend! — get benches for the little breakfast nook in my new apartment. It’s going to be such a good workspace for me; a nice rectangular table, tons of light, but it’s very claustrophobic and womb-like. Haha.

5. What artists inspire you?

Artists and playwrights whose work I’ve been returning to a lot recently include Keith Haring, Tom of Finland, Frida Kahlo, Caryl Churchill, Maria Irene Fornes, Anna Deavere Smith… I’m also very inspired by the work of Los Angeles choreographer Ryan Heffington. I had the pleasure of producing a recent dance concert at his studio and look forward to doing the next one in February 2014.

6. What companies do you like to work for?

The best companies are the ones that are open to new ideas and to change, that embrace social media and that do everything in a spirit of collaboration. And of course, the closer as I can be to the arts/film/TV, the better.

7. How do you like to work? As a freelancer? Alone? In an office environment?

I prefer to work alone, but I also love collaboration. I’m a freelancer by nature because I need new stimulation every day. Some of the best days of my life were when I was traveling or touring; I love falling asleep in one city and waking up in the next. I’m not a huge fan of routine, although I do value discipline and long hours.

8. What kind of mentoring do you find most helpful to you?

I wish I had more mentoring in my life! I think the best mentor is one who listens to your goals and doesn’t impose their will on you, but can still be super real about where they think you should be focusing your energies, and what steps you should or shouldn’t take.