Responses by Thomas Reynolds, executive technology director, David Brewer, associate technology director, Amie Pascal, executive director and Jack De Caluwé, associate creative director, Instrument
Background: We loved the idea of bringing together these two iconic brands, Google Cloud and the New York Times, and seeing what that could look like in terms of the visual tone and the user experience. Mixing the iconic, editorial feel of the New York Times with the simple and intuitive Google brand language turned this experience into something that feels like a unique expression of both brands.
Highlights: We compared the experience with the actual “Morgue,” the New York Times photo archives. The experience starts “above ground” in a Google aesthetic. Once a photo is chosen, the experience shifts to a darker aesthetic and users get immersed into the fascinating stories buried within each photo. Each story is meticulously crafted to take users on a journey through each layer of the narrative—using found artifacts, archive footage, photographs and custom soundscapes—to place readers at the heart of the story.
Navigational structure: The navigational architecture was kept intentionally lean, guiding users as efficiently as possible. We kept users engaged with a built-on structure that offers intuitive ways to jump between different stories and photos. We organically weave in moments that hint at the mechanics of how what Google Cloud can do—the analyzed photos, the uncovered details and the sources that pull together each story. Users become active participants in connecting the dots and finding new meaning in these photos.
Anything new: This project pushed us to double down on collaborative and iterative approaches to make the work its best. During this process, we reaffirmed the importance of developers being able to create early working prototypes that test concepts and the need for designers to stay actively engaged through the launch. But, our biggest learning as a team was the challenging test process due to the intersection of lighting conditions and shadows, print color accuracy, print materials, camera hardware differences and connectivity.