From 2017 to 2020, I was a lead full-stack designer for Knowhere, a technology-focused news start-up based in San Francisco inspired by Thomas Nagel’s "The View from Nowhere". Knowhere’s mission was to use technologies to make news more trustworthy, or, present the view from nowhere. We covered American politics and a mix of business, technology, and foreign affairs.
My area of design research was regarding trust and its linkage to forms of bias. I examined partisan, political, racial, and gender bias, and the ten forms in which these biases manifest in journalism: spin, unsubstantiated claims, opinion statements presented as facts, sensationalism/emotionalism, mudslinging/ad hominem, mind reading, slant, flawed logic, bias by omission, and omission of source attribution.
To reframe the challenge, in what ways do we modernize the newsroom and push the boundaries of journalism such that both adapt to the needs of the 21st century American public? In an increasingly globalized world how might the newsroom do more than simply maintain pace? How might it set the tone and direction for local, state, national, and global conversations?
I led UX and UI for the company’s AI-powered Content Management System (CMS), Ida. Ida allowed the newsroom to create, manage, and publish content, and its primary feature was assisting our reporters and editors in countering misinformation and partisan bias in their writing. This involved finding and choosing the right mental models and set of affordances, conceptualizing the Ida as a system with feedback loops and the ability to run itself, and prioritizing strong information design. Ida was a multi-purpose tool that allowed our newsroom to work more efficiently, collaboratively, and seamlessly.
In addition to Ida, I led UX for all digital products, helped scale our audience from zero to half a million, grew the team from four to twenty, and established a human-centered design thinking culture at the company.
As Design Lead I was responsible for the quality, creativity, and delivery of the following products:
Knowhere's CMS, named after Ida B. Wells, is the backbone of the company. Ida is where our journalists interface with AI to write news that is factual, objective, and information dense. See clips of Ida here.
Daily morning newsletter, The Brief
The Brief is the company's primary consumer product, with over 500K readers. See The Brief here.
Knowhere's web experience. See the site here.
I designed and maintained design systems for each product. To see the Design Systems please send request.
KNOWHERE'S POWERHOUSE PRODUCT, IDA
Ida, named after Ida B. Wells, was the backbone of the Knowhere newsroom. A multifaceted, dynamic tool used by Knowhere local and national editorial teams, Ida was where people interfaced with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Knowhere's end-to-end journalistic process lives in Ida.
Instead of typing, I've decided to create an audio experience for the interested viewer. Please listen as I explain Ida!
Ida for Treasure Coast, Florida
How to write stories using Ida
Set Design vision
Lead User Research
User empathy (being the voice of the user)
Managed an engineering team of three
Developed Product and Design priorities with Head of Product
Provided design insight on business needs and ideas
Created Knowhere's Design Systems from scratch
Developed Knowhere's Brand Guidelines
Helped establish Knowhere has a user-centric and empathetic force in the new media space
I joined an early stage start-up for the explicit opportunity to architect the design process. I worked closely with leadership to create a formal design process that was custom to our needs.
Three years and hundreds of iterations later, the process marries the “design thinking” methodology with the editorial process. From the beginning, I knew I wanted our design process to match the pace and excitement of a newsroom. The end result has been a user-centered process, optimized for rapid user testing, collaborative across teams, and reflective of our company’s data-driven and non-partisan culture.
Any product sprint begins with product framing. For the Product team at Knowhere this involved asking the following questions:
1. What people problem are we trying to solve?
2. How do we know this is a real problem? What evidence (data) do we have? Is this a problem that is worth solving?
3. How will we know if we’ve solved this problem?