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April 7, 2016, 1 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joseph Lichterman   |   April 7, 2016

This week in San Francisco, designers and developers gathered for the latest iteration of SNDMakes, the Society of News Design’s quarterly program that brings together people from throughout the news industry to rapidly prototype new products.

The San Francisco gathering was the sixth SNDMakes, and this iteration of the conference was focused on answering the following question: “How might we grow the news and information design community through tools and digital experiences?”

The attendees were broken up into seven teams — each named for a San Francisco neighborhood or landmark — and the groups spent the two-and-a-half day event developing and building their projects to try and make it easier for designers to connect with one another.

Each team presented their project yesterday. The presentations were streamed live on Periscope, and here are some of the highlights from each:


Team BARTChris Coyier, Meagan Gamache, Dan Hill, and Kawandeep Virdee — developed Flock, a community for news designers:

Flock connects American news designers and local, closed groups based on work experience and interests. Group managers validate incoming members, and designers learn the etiquette and guidelines of the groups that match their profile. As private communities grow on a variety of digital platforms, Flock broadens access for qualified designers while protecting community values.

Visualization Verification View

Team EmbarcaderoDavid Leonard, Allison McCartney, Robert Simmon, Jess Soberman — built Visualization Verification View (v3), a tool that lets journalists, designers, and developers working data stories show their work:

There’s no easy way for information and news designers to “show their work.” We are building a “view source” for data-driven stories that guides authors and visualizers to document their workflow and show the provenance of data. This will help journalists, developers, designers, and researchers document their own design process, learn from each other, and enable additional reporting.


Ted Han, Rebekah Monson, Julia Smith, and Nicole Zhu — Team Twin Peaks — built Babbage, a community tool to help independent designers find mentors:

Strong communities start with one-on-one relationships that grow into networks. But what if you’re a solo designer, a student or someone in a remote area without accessible, experienced peers nearby? Babbage is a low-hassle matching service that structures and schedules half-hour online feedback sessions on projects or career advice. Babbage pairs people up based on needs, skills, identities and experience levels, and encourages designers to commit to a single half-hour session each week to help a peer with feedback via a Google Hangout. For those who need help, we hone feedback requests into structured formats with specific outcome goals to make the best use of everyone’s time.

The tool is also aimed at helping managers meet a more diverse array of designers who they might not otherwise encounter.

“We think that making that personal connection is really important,” Monson said during the group’s presentation.

Golden Gate

The appropriately named Team Golden Gate built a tool that’s aimed at “bridging the gap between new and experienced information designers.” The group was comprised of Katie Briggs, Daniella DeVara, Simon Galperin, and Joe Siebert.

It can be hard for information designers of any skill level to find reputable and useful resources. Golden Gate lets information designers discover and share online resources, legitimized by recommendation. With a simple submission process, anyone in the news and information design community can recommend a link they love, and people looking to learn more can easily discover new resources.

Two Cents

To develop Two Cents, Team Mission Bay — Aidan Feay, Jenny Hanlon, Melissa Riggs, Jenny Zhang — thought back to the challenges they faced when first entering the news business.

“How do you find the right people on Twitter?” Feay asked. “How do you know that you’re reading what the professionals out there are reading?”

As a result, they decided to create a platform that allows users to learn more about news design and connect with other designers:

Two Cents is an inclusive, user-curated social platform where newbies and industry veterans alike can engage with each other and follow trending topics in news design without having to slog through a backlog of posts or rely on extensive knowledge. Users share links to content around the web, upvote and categorize each other’s posts, and use our platform as a launchpad to find and join in conversations on other social media such as Twitter. Whether at work, at home, or on their daily commutes, users can pop in for a quick dose of design inspiration and share their “two cents” on what’s brewing in their minds or buzzing in their community.


It’s often intimidating to try and meet new people at conferences or other events, so Team DogpatchAlex Duner, Kyle Ellis, Aliya Mood, John Osborn — developed Hatchling, which lets users highlight their skills and biography and set their networking availability to connect with others at specific events and help maintain them afterward. “It’s a community-driven directory that helps you make the connections you want to make at a conference or event you’re attending,” Mood said:


For news designers, it can be a challenge to find places to save their digital and print designs. There’s no single place where designers can upload their own work and also see what their colleagues are working on. That’s why Team Corona Heights — Aviva Loeb, Angelica Rogers, Dave Stanton, Ashley Wu — created Clips:

We are designing a database for news design, where organizations and individual users can upload their designs, comment on other designs, and search by platform, topic or organization. We hope this will help in brainstorming, seeing what is going on in the industry and creating more of a conversation around news design.

Correction: A previous version of this article left off one of the participating groups and mixed up one of the projects.

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