Emergence Magazine

Since we launched the magazine, Emergence has had a vision of creating a multimedia-based platform that leverages both traditional forms of storytelling and emerging formats like VR and AR.

- Studio Airport Team

Can you describe your project and the concept behind it?

Emergence’s website reflects the evolution of our visual identity and growth as a publication. When we switched from quarterly issues to publishing content online weekly, we needed a new platform for our library of multimedia stories, essays, interviews, films, and galleries — all with flexible, customizable templates. Studio Airport’s team created an intuitive user experience that ensures that even our long-form stories keep our audience engaged.

Tell us about your initial moodboard, wireframe, or prototype. How did things change throughout the process?

As this was a re-build rather than a new project, we had a strong foundation. Many of the initial wireframes were pretty close to the final design. One exception was the gallery template for photo essays: we struggled to find a format that provided the immersive experience we wanted. After several prototypes, we landed on a traditional vertical scroll format with ample space for images, paired with several enhanced interactions.

What influenced your chosen technical approach, and how did it go beyond past methods?

Our technical approach was highly influenced by our simultaneous work on the magazine’s second print edition. We wanted the design solutions of these two very different mediums to relate to each other, while preserving their own unique-feeling qualities. Every new story format for the website drew from the "print design approach.” We hope that users feel the intimate quality of print as they navigate this virtual space.

When did you experience a breakthrough or an "a-ha" moment during this project?

One of our challenges was creating a flow in which the user could immerse themselves fully in a story and still easily navigate back to an overview of the magazine’s content. We achieved this with a library index — including a filter system and a search engine — that can be accessed from anywhere on the site. The moment we placed the word “Stories” in the top right corner of this index, everything suddenly began to click.

What web technologies, tools, and resources did you use to develop this?

We primarily rely on Sketch as our go-to design tool. Additionally, we use Keynote and After Effects when animating hovers, transitions, and micro animations in order to ensure that the developers have a clear understanding of our intention and vision. For front-end development, we stick with the basics. For the back end, we use Wordpress, which has proven to be a platform that is extremely well-suited to our needs.

How did you balance your own creative ideas and technical capabilities with a fair representation of the client’s brand?

Over the past five years, we’ve built a strong relationship with the editorial team. We’re generally on the same page regarding the direction of the brand and any technical and design requirements that we want to achieve. That being said, we sometimes disagree on visual concepts or technical possibilities. In some cases, we’ve had to tone down visual effects in order to increase performance but, happily, there is never much that gets left behind.

How did the final product meet or exceed your expectations?

The bar is always set high by both our editorial and design team. Although we always begin the process with a lot of ambitious ideas for how a final product will function and look, we work to discern what is most important and then strip everything down to the essentials. As a design studio that has experimented with many creative formats, we are confident in our minimalist approach — everything that you see on the site is there for a reason.

Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

Since we launched the magazine, Emergence has had a vision of creating a multimedia-based platform that leverages both traditional forms of storytelling and emerging formats like VR and AR. Notably, we publish all our long-form written content as author-narrated essays in our podcast. Being an online publication lets us reach a global audience and experiment with innovative ways of telling stories.

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