The team wrapped a massive endeavor in 2017—all Vox Media properties were moved onto the same front-end system, known as Unison. As Vox Media added sites over time, they were often built bespoke, which was fast and allowed for a lot of individual expression between sites. However, over time this lack of unity created strains on productivity and limited the benefits that any one site made to that site alone.
Unison was created as the front-end counterpart to Chorus, Vox Media’s CMS. Design Director Yesenia Perez-Cruz and the rest of the team translated the existing brands into the Unison framework, and performance and productivity gains were seen across the board.
Once the unification was complete, I wanted to push the brand expression across the platform farther, using the shared components of Unison in a smart way, while also making pointed, specific additions for each brand as needed. For example, if a site like Polygon needs a module for game scores and summaries, let’s use that as a point for expressive design that reinforces the brand’s voice.
We wanted to thoroughly understand each brand, their audience, and what they expected from each brand. Our articles needed to feel purposeful and user-directed on every platform, with no superfluous elements. At the end of these explorations our article pages needed feel less like re-skinned elements from a common CMS and more like complete experiences driven from the core of each brand’s identity.