Thoughts on establishing a new online media outlet about climate change

Jesper Vestergaard

We recently launched Klimanyt, a new digital media outlet. It’s written in Danish (the name means ‘News about the climate‘) and it’s focused on bringing news and perspective for the current debate about climate, nature and our environment.

I’m behind the identity and logo, the product design and the technical implementation in Wordpress for web and Revue for newsletters. It all went pretty fast from idea to publication. So, now that the dust of launch has settled, I thought I’d take a step back and reflect a little on some thoughts that went into the process. Most importantly I focused on the use of color to establish the identity.

Open and accessible

Klimanyt was founded by editor in chief and a long time friend Mikael Kristensen. The goal is to create an open and accessible platform for information and debate about climate change and related topics of nature and environment. Not too technical or complex (going for scientific truths, but not in the language of science). And not too dumb (like the headline-hunting general media out there already). Moreover, a lay mans entry to information and knowledge about some of the most important challenges of our time. Independent of political and commercial interests, and with pragmatic and constructive approach without the bells of Dooms Day.

www.klimanyt.dk front page.

Establishing trust

So, I wanted to make everything as open and accessible as possible in terms of the product design. Editorially the goal is to invite more people to join the debates and gain information and knowledge about the challenges of climate changes and environmental issues. This goal extends to the design. The clarity of the content, the readability of the posts and the visual impact of imagery are key priorities.

Establishing a new media outlet in a time of an ever growing amount of new news sources, fake news and challenges establishing common perspectives through media, in general, it’s required to appear serious and professional. But also, a warm, inviting and welcoming atmosphere, that keeps feeding the hope of the positive effects or sharing information and opinions, will help to build the trust that is necessary to grow a readership and following.

An example of a post. Readability is increased with a maximum 60-80 character long lines and the use of high contrast, soft colors and massive headlines. Transparency is increased with extended author bylines and access to the author’s bio. And accessibility is increased with the progress indicator in the page top and clear distinctions between the post and the options to share and comment. Live post at https://www.klimanyt.dk/2019/07/01/fra-i-dag-kan-du-pante-juice-og-saftflasker/

Strong colors as the main driver

I chose to use strong colors as the main driver for recognition with readers of our identity and brand and to break through on social media. Also, I wanted to strike the balance of not coming off as too colorful and playful in order to keep the aura of seriousness that is key to building trust. Colors are great for getting attention, but too strong colors also wears out over time. You need to find a balance and create a visual atmosphere that people don’t just notice, but one they also want to back to and enjoy revisiting.

Color palette

The 70es feel of the color palette is my attempt to help us step back a little, to the 1970es. It was a time where I feel a positive hope for the future was alive and strong. But it was also the decade where it became clear that more and more things were starting to go really wrong. There was a nuclear accident at Tree Mile Island in Pennsylvania, US. The industrialisation of food production and a growing number of additives used in everything took on and expanded heavily. People on a larger scale started to realize that we need to be much more clever about how we progress as a civilization, both for our own and for the sake of the planet.

Also, I really wanted to try and keep the cliché light green and growing trees or seeds out of the picture, And instead look at a bigger perspective in the interplay of the colors of the Sun and the Earth. Not making everything simply black and white and not making it too complex, but just bringing a few more nuances to the table, as the editorial goal of the media. Finally, I found that using the light sand coloured would serve as a nice environmental parallel to the financial news world’s classic use of bright pink. Using a background color like that lets everything sink in and sit a bit deeper framing the context of reading in a subtle way.

Logo with variants

For the logo, I mainly build on the color palette with the use of a heavy, capitalized font. The bombastic use of the font on the website resembles classic newspaper mastheads, and with that, it borrows some of the authority of being a messenger of truth, that is very convenient when inviting someone to trust us as a new media outlet.

I also wanted to let the logo be a flexible object. One thing is to squeeze it in in the top of a website, another is to capture attention and give an impression of a whole identity in a thumbnail on social media. Both use cases are needed, but I’m not sure a single design necessarily is the best way to cover both. I wanted to keep it more open. And this ways it becomes even easier to adapt to various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The logo, in the social media variant.

What’s next?

We now have a steady readership of around 1200 monthly readers since the launch two months ago. The plan is to continue tweaking and refining both content and appearance. The next goals are to increase engagements with readers, and improving the room for comments and debate.

If you are a Danish reader, I’d recommend you to sign up to our monthly newsletter to stay in touch.

If you are interested in hearing more about my work, connecting, commenting or giving feedback, just let me know! :)

Jesper Vestergaard

Written by

Curious explorer of digital design, media and content. Consultant and digital product designer. https://www.jespervega.dk

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