Big data, interactive graphics, and data visualizations will still be cool, but they’ll no longer be the coolest kids on the block.
In 2016, digital journalism will embrace a trend that’s been growing for years: enabling illustrations to live up to their true potential online.
Browse the best of print design in journalism — any year — and you’ll see enticing, creative, beautiful double-truck illustrations that cover topics ranging from the serious to the silly. But browse the best of digital design in journalism and illustrations are sparse.
That isn’t to say that digital journalism hasn’t been beautiful or well designed. Instead, it is the illustration in particular that has had trouble finding its place on our websites. Journalism have long tried to port its beautiful print graphics online, but have frequently needed to sequester them to a small part of the page. How do you make bold illustrations come to life when you’re limited to using only half the page, or the size of your screen?
Luckily, journalists have been figuring it out — harder, better, faster and stronger than ever. My colleagues in the digital design team at ProPublica, led by David Sleight, has shown me in only one year, perhaps even just this last week, how much news organizations could be doing to let illustrations rise to their full potential online.
So for 2016, expect a big, bold and colorful year in digital journalism. Expect illustrations to used in new and even more creative ways. Expect them to surprise you, engage you, maybe even scare you — and expect them to blow you away even on the smallest screens.
Sisi Wei is an investigative journalist and developer at ProPublica.