MATTER is the brainchild of journalists Bobbie Johnson and Jim Giles. Frustrated with the lack of care and quality on display in most online journalism, they set out to create a service where journalists and readers could focus on the finest science and technology writing. To achieve this, they started a Kickstarter campaign which was enormously successful, proving that there was a real desire for high-quality, focused, long-form writing.
Here at Clearleft, we were already big fans of the project when Bobbie and Jim approached us. We would take the reins on the visual design and front-end development, while the über-talented Phil Gyford would be handling the Django-based back-end development.
We began our work together with some design workshops where we did some competitor analysis, figured out the focus of the project, mapped user journeys, and hammered out design principles to guide us through the project.
Much of our early design work for MATTER focused on its identity. We thought a lot about how articles could appear on the web, how readers would recognise them in eBook stores and how they might be bookmarked on smartphone home screens. As the identity would play a supporting role to the articles being published, the logo needed to act as a hallmark, identifying an article as one that meets the high standards of journalism MATTER is aiming for.
We were incredibly pleased to be working with Clearleft. They’re a small team of astonishing, thoughtful web designers and user experience experts.
One of the guiding principles we established early on was to “privilege the reading experience”. This meant that the articles needed to be legible and enjoyable to read on any device. Applying the principles of responsive design gave us a robust and flexible foundation, but it was rigourous testing on multiple devices that allowed us to refine the reading experience for everyone.