NSA Files Decoded by The Guardian

NSA files decoded  Edward Snowden s surveillance revelations explained   World news   theguardian.com
Traditionally, New York Times usually takes care the business easily when it comes to interactive online storytelling. A number of awards they won on such category proved their capability. This time, however, the British Guardian took the crown as they did an unbelievably fantastic job for its online feature story of NSA surveillance in the US and around the world. It’s by far one of the best online storytelling I have ever read, clean, simple but innovative and man they are really good at tailoring the CSS!
The issue, NSA Files Decoded is massive,  featuring a number of videos, infographics, interactive elements and of course millions of words, but all you need to do to navigate the page is scrolling, that simple. Interestingly, I noticed beginning late 2013, the implement of scrolling in web page design has been elevated to a new level, simply because it fits readers’ control habit. As long as it’s done properly, nobody will dislike reading a online story combined with multiple media by simply scrolling their center mouse wheel.
And that’s just the beginning. As a graphic designer, the color scheme between text and graphics, the font, the whole layout are just plainly text-book like gold. Notice the balance between blue and red color through out the whole story: red color takes majority of the graphic and texts that are clearly important to the story, while blue serves as a complimentary color implemented perfectly with some of the reds to create a complete design that looks well-balanced. All the interviewees are centered in the page, the frame-less design not only looks spot-on but makes them perfectly aesthetically fit the whole story board. And the attention to detail in effort to make the report easy to navigate and easy to read whichever part you want is just spot on: the video’s auto play is instant and smooth while a “stop auto-play” button is always available under each interview video. In addition, the default volume is appropriately set up, neither too loud nor too low to be heard. In case you want to know a bit more about the interviewee, they prepared a twitter button with each interviewee. More than that, a navigation bar always stays at top with six number buttons for readers to go back and forth through the report rather than scrolling like a maniac. Bravo!
The interactive elements, how could we miss them. All I want to say is that people The Guardian must hired some of the best animation makers as well as graphic designers. I just found all the elements are super fun to play with while serve a great role to either inform audience more information visually or explain some of the jargons remarkably. My fav will definitely be the illustration on POR and PGP, coolest design ever seen, 
A simple sum up ultimately, this is undoubtedly one of the best online story you could find today, it’s well balanced in terms of multimedia elements. The Guardian recognized that they needed to help people understand the implications, connections, and impact of this news. So they weaved together video interviews, text, source documents, timelines and interactive tools to offer the reader a complete and comprehensive story. 
Remember, scrolling is the king 😛
John Ye

2 thoughts on “NSA Files Decoded by The Guardian

  1. I also thought of writing about this site at some point this semester, you got it first! I really like the scroll down design of this story. Although it seems to be the simplest thing a user can do, it is uneasy to make it interesting. The Guardian definitely captured my attention with their NSA story. I really like the richness of the content and the way the Guardian presented it. i.e. there’s a paragraph that the Guardian says “Since you began reading this, the NSA has selected XX terabytes of data for review. That’s about XX two-hour HD movies.” This comparison is very intuitive for an average person to comprehend. Also, the Guardian shows the original document when they are referring to it in the story. This insures their credibility.

    Good stuff!


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