NZZ Open
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NZZ Open

How we stopped making all graphics by hand and started printing from our graphics toolbox

…and took one giant leap forward in our digital transformation.

Recent graphics created in Q.
A typical request in our Slack channel for two graphics to accompany a story in print.
The «old» process: Once a Q graphic is made, it can be published immediately. The graphics team then takes the data and plugs it into Illustrator, applies print styles to the charts and exports it as a PDF to be placed by the print production team in the layout.



🚦 Big Names Give Green Light

🛠 Make it Actually Work

The interface within Q for exporting a graphic for print.

👩🏻‍🏭 Seemless Type Transition to Test

Results from our test print: looking pretty damn good!

🙋🏻‍♀️ Talk it Up

  • Journalists and editors no longer need to interface with the graphics team to request a print version of simple graphics.
  • Department desks don’t need to interface with the graphics team about changing size or content details in the graphics.
  • The print production team now generate the final graphics from Q and place them directly into the layout.
  • The graphics team is relieved of the regeneration work of simple charts and can slowly dissolve the roughly 40 hours of work required for this task each week in order to invest that time in work that creates more value.
  • The proofreading team no longer has to proofread and correct graphics twice (once for online, once for print) and no longer has to interact with the graphics team to request those changes.
  • Talk about it all of the time to everyone. And talk about it in a way that it highlights how much more resources (money, time) we gain by implementing this. It’s tech magic that shouldn’t be scary.
  • Offer tutorials, workshops or one-on-one time with anyone using Q for the first time and everyone using the new feature for the first time. In those environments we’re able to answer why the tool works the way it does and collect feedback on how it can be improved.
  • Provide the resources (people, time) in the graphics, data and tech teams in order to do quality control during the transition phase. Observations during quality control can be feedbacked to departments so they know what improvements and/or errors to watch out for.
  • Empower experts within each department who can serve as a point of contact after the rollout and quality control phases. These people can be given extended features within the tool and can help share knowledge of the tool across their departments

🚢 Ship it!

Lots of charts in the first two weeks of the rollout!

Okay so what went not great

Problem: Communication

Problem: The “Frankenstein” Graphics and Forced-Height

Problem: Quality Control

👆🏻Slack notifies everyone displaying the original graphic, the fixed graphic and a div of the changes (red). Here you can see Nikolai has changed the subtitle to reflect the measurement of millions of Swiss francs more elegantly.

Here…we…go! 🚀



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Anna Wiederkehr

American designer with a background in journalism, interface and visualization design located in Zürich. Currently Head of Graphics at @NZZ