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Design at The Wall Street Journal: A behind‑the‑scenes look

The Wall Street Journal, one of the largest business-focused newspapers in the United States just launched an exciting new website Design.WSJ.com. The website was created for and by the designers at The Wall Street Journal and is meant to showcase the design team’s work and insights while also giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at design for the WSJ.

WSJ readers can learn more about things like the process behind re-designing the new WSJ mobile app, or even hear from the Head of Design on unifying the old and new typography of the publication. We were lucky enough to chat with WSJ Designers Cory Etzkorn and Thomas Williams about the project, how it came into fruition, and what we can expect moving forward. Check out what they had to say below.

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The idea behind the website

The Wall Street Journal is more than 125 years old and has a venerable legacy as a news organization. We’re combining that history with modern design and technology to build the news organization of the future. We’d like to share our process and spur more conversation along the way.

We hope to use the design site to share our journey as we explore what it means to be a modern media organization.

We’re at a critical point where more people are understanding the value journalism provides to our society and national discourse. There’s growing interest in how news transpires and spreads. We’d like to be transparent about product decisions we make—in service of both our subscribers and the public.

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The design process

It was a challenge to design something that felt like part of the WSJ brand without readers mistaking it for newsroom content. Typography is a major component of our identity. Thus, the design was largely built on top of Font Bureau’s Escrow. We chose to use a lighter weight not often used in our print or digital news products to help differentiate the content as coming from the design team.

Our newsroom is located in New York City and we certainly drew influence from the design culture that exists here. The dark color palette, striking typography, and use of negative space are all nods to our primary home.

Regarding the simplicity of the design, the WSJ design team exists to support and bolster quality journalism. The design of a great news experience should in some ways be invisible – it’s more important that the reading experience feels natural and “just works”. We like to keep content at the forefront.

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What’s next

We hope to use the design site to share our journey as we explore what it means to be a modern media organization. We put a lot of energy into improving our digital products, but we’re also thinking about all the other ways we can connect with our readers. Non-traditional print offerings, conferences, voice-enabled experiences (like Amazon’s Alexa), and smart marketing strategies are all equally important to our success.

You’ll likely see more content about designing at scale and creating positive change inside an organization as large as ours. We’ve also started focusing on our cross-platform design system and would love to share our progress on that front.

As our design team grows, we’ll also be adding a careers section to share opportunities for new folks to join the team. There’s a huge variety of work to be done across digital product, supporting editorial on a day-to-day basis, and designing newsroom tools to improve our workflows. Ultimately, we’d like to share our learnings with the design community and this site is a great first step.

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Every day is an opportunity to work on an important and real problem. As the line between fact and fiction has blurred, there has never been such a great need for the truth. It is a privilege to work at an organization that sets such a high bar for ethics and standards.

Want to keep up with The WSJ designers? Find them on design.wsj.com.

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