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ProPublica is an independent newsroom, one that focuses on in-depth, investigative journalism for the public interest. Their stories frequently uncover abuses of power by the powerful, holding businesses, institutions, and governments alike accountable to the American public.

During 2017, an ambitious redesign and rebranding was well underway at ProPublica. Halfway through the year, David Sleight, ProPublica’s design director, asked if I’d be willing to lend a hand. Since I’m a big fan of ProPublica, its work, and its mission, I leapt at the chance.

An article on the new, shown on a phone
An article on the new, shown on a phone, with the site’s navigation menu open

For much of the summer, I worked alongside ProPublica’s design team, assisting them with design tasks: producing specific design patterns and modules for reuse; designing new prototypes for certain pages or features; or producing a few of the more complicated design elements, like the new masthead and footer. We also found time to work in several performance optimizations, ensuring the site loaded as quickly for ProPublica’s readers.

Toward the end of my engagement on the redesign, I was approached by another team at ProPublica: namely, by Scott Klein and Sisi Wei, who lead ProPublica’s award-winning News Applications team. Their team publishes data-rich, highly interactive stories, and they were hoping to incorporate ProPublica’s new design language into their work.

Over the next few months, I worked with Scott and Sisi to identify the most common patterns across their existing news applications; from there, I created new design patterns, incorporating the site’s new visual direction.

The result is a robust, extendable pattern library built in Fractal, available to all of ProPublica’s news developers.

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