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Lessons from #SNDMakes Boston

How might we improve the content creation process?

More than 40 designers, programmers, and journalists — including 8 of Vox Media’s own — met up in Boston last weekend to answer that question. After two and a half days of discussion and iteration, teams made up of participants from the Boston Globe, Vox Media, Slate, Upstatement, ESPN, the Texas Tribune, and others put together 6 functioning demos to test some of our theories.

SND Makes is an ongoing event series organized by the Society of News Design to connect old media and new media organizations who are all facing similar challenges and opportunities online. The event was covered by NiemanLab, and you can see the teams at work and describing all 6 projects in this snazzy video produced by Upstatement:

SND Makes // Boston with Upstatement from Mike Swartz on Vimeo.

Some of our own Product team shared their thoughts, too:

Alisha Ramos, Front-End Designer

"The event made me realize how much more room there is for innovation in journalism. Thinking about the content creation process you just realize how many pain points there are for everyone in the newsroom. Everyone from editors, to reporters, to even photographers on the ground. These are all audiences we need to think about as a newsroom designer or developer.

Most of the teams came out of the weekend with working prototypes, which was really cool to see. Some of them (my team included) are planning on developing the apps further so they can be useful to newsrooms everywhere."

Ramla Mahmood, Designer

"This was the second event I've attended that focused on different people from different companies getting together to work on a single issue. This was a bit larger, and I liked that it was spread over a longer time, and we could develop our ideas further. It was nice to not just create something but to meet great people. It was easy to meet people across teams, and using HackDash gave us a chance to give feedback on other projects. We took a lot of breaks to check in with each other and create and environment where you’re not just working on you own project, but contributing to everyone’s work all weekend.

As a designer, you get to work on projects you might not always get to normally in your day to day. The project I worked on was creating a better audio experience, and that’s something I’ve never touched in my own job, but I was able to work on it at SND Makes. It was nice to switch gears for a bit and think about different problems in different ways.

What I got out of it was that when you go to any events like these, it forces you to work with people you don’t normally. They bring back perspectives and thoughts that you can bring back to your normal work life.

Also, Boston was cool."

Chris Haines, Senior Product Manager

"The real value for me at SND Makes was meeting folks from a wide array of companies and disciplines and understanding that we face a lot of the same challenges. It invigorated me to come back and set to work; not only on building on the tools that we started in Boston, but also on tackling the myriad of other complex problems that we identified at the outset.

Team 5, makers of "hmpgr," spent most of the first day talking through 15 or so different problems that we wanted to solve before we honed in on an idea of something to build. That hours-long discussion of challenges we face was one of the most rewarding parts of the weekend for me."

This is the second #SNDMakes event the Vox Product team has attended, and we love the work SND is doing. If you do too, consider throwing some support their way!