New Republic Climate Thermometer

UI Design and brand creation for a new website about climate change targeting the US Mid-term elections

The 2014 US elections are coming, and the planet could use some love

The New Republic, one of the United States’ most respected publications, wants to publicise the activities and statements of standing politicians in the 2014 election.

They need this site turned around quickly, so they approached Human Made to do the build, and Human Made asked me to do the design.

What do you want your new website to do?

  • Climate change news (mostly/all aggregated and can be any format, including tweets)
  • Surfacing climate denial stories/tweets
  • Mix of organic and aggregated posts
  • Goes from mid-July until mid-November (4 months)
  • National focus, but with somewhat greater focus on Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, Colorado, Pennsylvania
  • 4-6 posts per day
  • 80-90% aggregated with a link directly out to the contributing site – similar to Digg where we repackage
  • 10-20% organic – 1 post per day, but only things that really move the needle
  • Each article (aggregated or organic) should
    • further the climate change conversation, either in that it’s breaking news or offers fresh analysis, and even the breaking news posts should offer something original–use something from a HuffPo/Salon columnist over a post from The Hill
    • be something The New Republic reader would want to read, meaning it’s smart, pointed, and relevant to the broader conversation
    • be shareable

From the brief…

“In partnership with NextGen Climate, Climate Thermometer aims to be the best place on the Web to find out what’s going on in the intersection of climate change and politics. By best, we mean it’s a place where a reader is informed of the most important climate- change news of the day, week, month–and beyond getting the news, they’ll understand it. In the lead up to the 2014 midterms, coverage will specifically focus on candidates denying climate change or thwarting regulations, as well as candidates who are helping move the cause forward.”

Turning up the temperature on climate denial

First, we needed brand and a logo

This site’s provenance is complicated, it’s owned by The New Republic, but is operated for “NextGen Climate”. Hence, we need a new logo that incorporates a bit of New Republic, and has reference to NextGen Climate

The Climate Thermometer logo is a combination of the New Republic’s Antenna font with the NextGen Climate logo incorporated as a sponsor.

This solved the problem that the site had to have a bit of New Republic branding, but without using the New Republic logo itself.

We needed to match politician’s statements to the potential damage to the climate

To do this, we decided to analyse for it’s potential damage to the climate, and give them a ‘temperature’. The hotter the temperature, the more damage. Simple!

Climate Thermometer editors would scan the daily news feeds, and create posts, manually assigning a ‘temperature’ to each one.

The temperature of the week’s debate is then built into a graph at the top of the page.

Putting all together, the homepage looks like this:

The Climate Thermometer website ran until the November 2014 elections.

The site is totally responsive, here is the mobile version.

The site was built in WordPress by the amazing folks at HumanMade.

You can read a case study on the HumanMade website.

We helped save the world – a little bit

Tom and his team were a real pleasure to work with. We were facing a challenging timeline and working with some new concepts and I was very happy with how quickly we mobilized as a team to reach our goals. We were quite satisfied with the end result.

Mark Lewis – Director of Digital Operations, The New Republic

Let’s talk