is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can reach him through one of the services below.+
The New York City Campaign Finance Board sends out a voter guide in advance of every election, and after I get it in the mail, I usually put it on a table and tell myself a little white lie about how I’ll read it well before the polls open on Election Day. But I never do, partly because, in the past, those guides have been dryly designed and uninviting — they don’t exactly promise a page-turning experience.
For this year’s primary (coming up on 13 Sep), the board tried something different — actually injecting a bit of engagement into the design. You can get a sense of the look at the NYCCB’s new approach at the Web site, which isn’t a bad representation of the printed guide at all, but it pretty much just looks like a regular Web site.
Big and Beautiful
To really see the new thinking in effect, you need to get your hands on the printed piece: it’s an unexpectedly inviting, tabloid-sized, full-color affair. It looks more like some kind of catalog for an expensive collegiate program than a voter’s guide, surely. And while not a ground-breaking specimen of graphic design, it’s still shockingly bold for its context, with huge, silhouetted images and relatively adventurous typography. I guess the highest compliment I can pay to the designers is that it actually made me sit down and page through it, and then actually read it.
This guide is actually a great example of how design can have a positive and material impact in substantial arenas of real life — there’s a marked difference in not just the visual appeal but also the fundamental usefulness of the content of this year’s voter guide. I have to hand it to the NYCCFB; this is probably the most meaningful bit of design I’ve seen all year long.+