Tackling Experience Design in Fashion News

When the New York Post needed a new brand identity and design system, it turned to Adobe XD to launch a new digital property, Page Six Style.

The weather is heating up, and so are high-profile fashion events and celebrity sightings. Awards season quickly flowed into Paris Fashion Week and SXSW. And with Coachella underway and the MET Gala just around the corner, stars will come out to flash new looks for spring — and fans will want to follow it all.

For media outlets covering style, it’s a heady time. The fashion publishing world is fiercely competitive, with daily pressure to publish by the minute online or within seconds on social media. Readers have come to expect an engaging digital experience in this competitive space, and if they don’t get it right away, they’re just one click away from finding it elsewhere.

It’s an extraordinarily difficult industry to break into. Yet that’s exactly what the New York Post has done with a new digital property, Page Six Style. The new fashion vertical launched just five months ago and is growing rapidly, boasting a significant jump in unique users from January to February as its user base continues to expand, according to Jan-Jan Tayson, digital creative director at the New York Post_._

Launching Page Six Style started with the creation of a new brand identity and a design system.

“We sat down with members of the editorial team to understand their needs and the direction they wanted to take the brand. What will the content be? What voice would you like? Sophisticated? Jovial and fun? With answers to those sorts of questions, we created a brand identity and built the wireframes, templates, and other design assets that the editorial, social, and video teams needed,” Tayson says.

Tayson supports Page Six Style while managing three other existing properties—the New York Post, Page Six, and Decider—with a permanent design staff of just one incredibly talented designer, John Friese, and a network of design resources. Her team relies on Adobe XD to help them be nimble and responsive to big events, expected and unexpected.

“By developing templates in XD, we’ve been able to swiftly modify and extend our designs as we’ve moved through awards season, knowing that we had limited time from, for example, the Grammys to the Oscars,” Tayson says. “We can better coordinate and organize our projects, which is critical when we need to respond to big events, including those that may be unplanned.”

Where Tayson’s team used to develop painstaking mock-ups for each design element and then manually circulate them around the team for feedback, she can now brainstorm with internal clients real-time.

“With the design specs and prototyping features, we can have the interactive prototypes up and make changes in real time, with real assets. It’s been transformative,” she says. “Instead of passing a draft back and forth with written notes, we can discuss it and make changes on the fly. And it’s easier for the members of the team who aren’t designers to understand and translate the ideas. It gives our initial mock-ups a personality because we can use real content.”

Tayson says her team is now even more collaborative.

“We can create symbols within the tool and link them to every file in the project, which allows multiple designers to work on different components of the overall design, with changes appearing seamlessly,” Tayson says. “Now, we can work with fewer total files and without fear of overwriting each other. Team members can share assets by exporting layers, jumpstarting the design of elements related to other projects.”

This high-level collaboration was crucial to the launch of Page Six Style for busy times like Fashion Week and Awards Season. Because the full-time design team is so lean, larger projects like designing a new vertical require Tayson to scale resources up and down quickly and work smoothly with contractors.

“We bring in freelance designers and a third-party development agency to help with the code as needed. Ultimately, our design work supports a digital team of more than 100 people across the New York Post, including video, social, and ad teams, so we need a design solution that allows this larger, extended team to collaborate effectively.”

For Tayson and Page Six Style, accelerating design reviews has become key to hitting project milestones and meeting deadlines with its third-party agency.

“We had to be ready to launch ahead of New York Fashion Week, so there was a real time crunch. We had to figure out how to create twice the design assets in half the time normally available. Design review was a variable we could control,” explains Tayson.

To help accelerate the overall design process, Tayson’s team kicked things off with quick conceptual sketches using XD.

“The intuitive toolsets enabled me to iterate through these concepts, presenting a set of options to key stakeholders, gaining approval to move forward at a rate not possible with other design tools. Once prototyping was complete, I could not only create specs for developers but also send those specs directly to the development team.”

The daily time pressure of the publishing industry makes any time-saving feature a godsend. Tayson’s team was able to export files to After Effects, Adobe’s motion graphics and visual effects software, which allowed the team to put designs in motion instantly, rather than starting from scratch each time.

Of course, successful publications need to do more than design efficiently and hit deadlines. They need to capture their readers with breakthrough design and engaging content. That takes experimentation.

“We A/B test almost everything,” Tayson says. Adobe XD provides the hard data the team needs to understand the best placement for the module, which content assets perform well and how quickly readers click through, and more. “We come up with different ideas and designs, and through testing we know which direction to go — we owe a lot of our success to variations and design in testing,” she adds.

The successful launch of a property like Page Six Style is no small design challenge. Sustaining and growing it in a competitive marketplace takes even more flexibility, efficiency, and timely content to consistently engage readers — and to drive revenue.

Thanks to advanced design and prototyping tools, Tayson and her team are poised to keep growing into the future, always ready for the next big fashion event.

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