I was the lead product designer and editorial art director for the redesign and rebrand of thecut.com in 2017. This included a new identity, site architecture, home screen, refreshed article pages, new wedding and design listing directories, a new image gallery story format, and refreshed visual content. The Cut's editorial mission had evolved from a nymag.com style blog launched in 2012, to a widely respected independent site covering a much larger and more diverse mix of content, far beyond fashion. The redesign was undertaken to better reflect what it had become. This project won the gold medal for best homepage redesign at the 2018 Society of Publication Designers Awards, and the 2019 gold medal for web typography. 
My Role: senior art director & Lead product designer
The Team: creative director, Ian Adelman | Logo & Identity development: chris cristiano, Christian Schwartz | product designer, Marisa Woocher, Jeni Zhen | Product manager, Jenny Barrett | Engineers, Zoe Chodosh, Byron hulcher, Chris Kirk

the cut: Home screen design

Mobile and digital publishing has limitations. There is a lot at your disposal to make a point of difference with the competition. But we identified a few things that helped create an experience that felt entirely original and new. The first question we asked was, What is the ultimate luxury on the Internet? Empty Space. In digital news media real estate is prohibitively tight, and the status quo approach was squeezing as many headlines above the fold as possible. So retaining empty space was a radical concept for a news site. Home pages have evolved into the primary context to show case advertisers adjacent to the brand in its most expressive form, not so much drivers of traffic. So creating a context that felt appropriate for our luxury fashion advertisers was crucial.

The larger question we were trying to solve was: How can we set ourselves apart from competitors with the space constraints of a phone screen? What is the opposite or antidote to how other news sites are designed? Square images, but images used more sparingly, inset not full bleed. Typography that elevates the headline, and is sometimes seen without promotional image. A severely limited color palette: Black & white.

the cut: identity research

“Imagine a tabloid exploded with a sex magazine and a literary journal… then impose a fashion filter… what would that look like?”—Stella Bugbee, Editor-in Chief, The Cut

After several attempts of the product design team to redesign the Cut homepage, we realized the identity itself also needed to be rethought, because it no longer felt like the right fit for the expanded editorial mission of the site. We worked with the designers in the print art department of New York Magazine (where I was in an earlier phase of the project) to research and develop this further. We did a lot of historical research and through that process some themes emerged. Two of those themes were "feminist+punk" and "literary+porn".

THE CUT: LOGO Development

The new logo inspiration came from Ms. Magazine, which began in 1972 as a supplement within New York Magazine’s pages. This was a direct nod to the origins of the iconic second wave feminist publication, whose legacy upon which The Cut had been built for a new generation of readers. We commissioned type designer Christian Schwartz to draw the logo.


The Redesign Process: We ordinarily work through visual identity ideas in the desktop context, but the functional and logical design of the home screen is done for mobile first. However for this project we decided to approach both in a mobile context before tackling desktop. Aside from mobile being so important for the majority of readers, it forces prioritization and content architecture decisions.

This was approached as a mobile first design. Once logo and order of content was set (via wire framing), we began sketching and developing the overall look and feel of the site experience.

THE CUT: logo Longevity

After we had spent several months working on both the identity and the home screen, we began to notice many logos which appeared to be based on very similar ideas. We realized that the logo would feel dated before we even launched. So we abandoned it and started over. This happened about 6 weeks prior to launch.


While the identity research was happening, the editorial team formulated a new taxonomy and content architecture for the site based on a headline sorting exercise. The new site navigation doubles as a tag line, reflects the expanded editorial mission, broadcasts clearly the full range of Cut content without overwhelming the user, and is easy to navigate and understand. The site is more of a browsing experience than a breaking news experience. We utilize different layout archetypes for different content strategies.


As part of the article redesign I worked on the following year, we redesigned the article template system, establishing a better hierarchy that gave the reader a clearer sense of the importance and length of the story. This shows the feature template for a series or package. See here for more on this.


Since The Cut and New York commissions and produces a lot of visual content, we added more flexibility in the lede for different lede image orientations, honoring the original cropping.

THE CUT: editorial art direction

While the home page was being built I turned to refreshing the editorial visuals for the site. Given the high volume of stories, and the limitations of time, budgets and resources, we relied on in house treatments, and digital illustrations from stock or supplied photography to create themes for recurring columns, packages and series. These need to be templated and simple enough for photo production (not digital illustrators) to execute them very quickly.
I also began to assign a lot more original illustrations across the site, establishing some identities for particular columnists, some of which grew into sub brands of their own, with regular events, videos, and podcast brands.

THE CUT: social media

I then expanded the new identity across other platforms, such as social media and video. The Cut produces a digital “cover” every month for Instagram.

THE CUT: CUT merch

My work on The Cut has cut across many disciplines and platforms. Another initiative in Fall 2018 was designing viral Cut headline t-shirts, (made to order via the Amazon print on demand shop), and a fashion week street poster and social campaign.