Input

A Brand New Destination About Technology in Our Lives

Our sixth publishing collaboration with Joshua Topolsky resulted in two of the coolest and most versatile storytelling sites on the internet right now.

Rewind to 2016, when Code and Theory partnered with Topolsky, former Editor in Chief of The Verge and Bloomberg to create The Outline, a deliberate alternative to conventional digital publishing at the time. The Outline’s unique visual design, navigation patterns and card-based storytelling system made waves when it launched—and continues to publish thought-provoking content.

Fast forward to 2019, here’s how it all came together:

  • Topolsky’s The Outline and its card system were acquired by Bustle Digital Group (BDG) in March 2019.
  • Topolsky had a vision to start Input Magazine, a new publication about technology.
  • Inverse — a science and entertainment site — was acquired by Bustle Digital Group in July 2019.

And so, iterating upon the card-based system we developed for The Outline, we created a new system that would house Input and Inverse, and serve as a model for the rest of the Bustle Digital Group properties.

How can this new site cut through the clutter? How can this new site make content more efficient and smarter for readers?

This project aimed to solve two of the major problems facing publishers today:

  • A sea of sameness: Almost all publishing sites look the same. Image, headline, dek and paragraphs of text. Rinse and repeat.
  • More money in more places: Publishers need new ad products to offer more value to their customers.

The primary goal was to arm reporters and sales teams with a robust and versatile toolkit to create new types of stories for an audience that's accustomed to quick, constant content.

How can we push storytelling conventions? Product reviews and entertainment news don’t always need to be 3,000 words. What are fresh, new visual ways to convey the same ideas to readers?

INPUT4
INPUT1

The Stream and Rocks Model

To make content reach users faster and more efficiently, the site's navigation structure is centered around the feed, or the stream—an infinite scroll of cards that represents a story.

“Everybody’s brain now moves at Twitter speed...Here’s an opportunity to do stuff that’s faster, that’s a little bit more expedited in terms of its delivery.” –Joshua Topolsky

In a world where scrolling through feeds feels second-nature, we designed Input and Inverse without traditional homepages. Upon landing on inputmag.com or inverse.com, readers see an infinite scroll of stories. Each story offers a snippet—the headline, maybe a quote, or a key stat, along with some information. The reader can then expand that story in the feed to read more, or continue scrolling.

When one story finishes, users scroll right back into the infinite stream of stories.

The stream can also be interrupted by rocks—curated content modules, e-commerce breakers and other fun interactive moments for the reader.

INPUT3

Many Cards for Many Stories

While cards are a widely used mechanic around the web, the design approach we took to them is unique. We started with the editorial use cases. Here are some examples of the most commonly used card types:

  • Headline Card: The most used type; conveys a headline with a visual asset and a dek.
  • Quote Card: Draws out an interesting sound bite from the story.
  • Big Data Card: Features a key stat or number.

Next, we explored a toolkit of design elements, including different typographies, color schemes and image treatments.

We ended up with:

  • 6 card types
  • 3 layout variations per card
  • 4 image effects
  • 2 image treatments
  • 6 color palette schemes

That means over 800 permutations for how a single card can look.

Each card can effectively look art-directed and visually unique without any designer or developer. The card is the foundation of every story on the site and is highly flexible depending on the story it needs to tell.

Card Stories

A new storytelling format, card stories string together different cards into a sequence. The experience is very similar to tapping through Instagram or Snapchat stories, where each tap reveals a new visual element and builds onto the story.

The card stories can be entirely branded or sponsored by advertisers, or single branded or sponsored cards can be injected and interspersed throughout.

Input Mag launched in December 2019, Inverse launched in January 2020, and this is just the beginning.

The modular approach to building cards means that we can easily add new card types or new image treatments with minimal development effort.

As editors experiment with new ways of telling stories, we can continue to build out their toolkit and create premium assets and products for monetization.

We are continuing to work with BDG to scale the card system and the CMS to its other properties.

Continue toThe Things We MakeProject

Evolving the Financial Services Model

We're transforming an antiquated industry through cutting-edge design—and driving the future of finance forward.

02
Washington Football Team

Charting a New Path for an Iconic Institution. Together.

A 360° rebrand for the football franchise to usher in an era of inclusivity, transparency, respect and shared passion.

Read More
  • Bold new identity system
  • Interactive digital fan experience
  • Powerful integrated campaign

A Bold Vision for Healthcare

From patient-centric products to back-end systems for providers, we’re reimagining how healthcare is experienced.

Cultivating Community in Education & Government

We’re strengthening some of the most influential institutions through digital-first platforms and communications tools.

Blowout feature desktop 1
Bustle Digital Group

Modern Storytelling for Bustle Digital Group

Over six years, we invented new media platforms and reinvigorated classics—all with unparalleled design paradigms.

Read More
  • Bold creative identities
  • Flexible and scalable design systems
  • Customizable card formats and interactive storytelling

Reaching the Consumer for CPGs & QSRs

Morton Salt | Putting More Salt on US Tables

Promoting Travel & Hospitality

From staycation to spontaneous getaways, we help clients make the journey more exciting and efficient.

Digital Media. Redefined.

Nexstar Media Group | Helping 130+ Local News Stations Transition to Digital

Ad Age 0023Ad Age 0023Digiday1 0039

Recognition

  • Code and Theory

    Ad Age

    2020 Agency A-List
  • Code and Theory

    Ad Age

    2020 Best Places to Work
  • Code and Theory

    DIGIDAY

    2019 Creative Agency of the Year

All Work

CBRE | The digital infrastructure for the biggest commercial real-estate firm

College Board | Positioning the College Board as an Integrated Partner for Students

adidas Superstar | Change Is A Team Sport

Bustle Digital Group | Modern Storytelling for Bustle Digital Group

Dean & Deluca | Connected Physical and Digital Gourmet Grocery Experiences

adidas Running | Bringing In-The-Moment Running Experiences to Boost Product Discovery

Vogue | A Fresh New Look for Vogue.com

The Commonwealth Fund | Rebuilding a 100-year-old Foundation for the Next Century

Fitbit | A New Customer Experience for Fitbit.com

William Hill Estate | Putting Chardonnay on Trend

Chandon | Repositioning the Brand for a Millennial Audience

Spotify | Helping Artists Grow on the Music Platform

adidas Originals James Harden | Launching the Next Chapter in Adidas Basketball

adidas Originals Nite Jogger | A Digital Campaign Ecosystem that Brings Alive Creativity at Night

adidas Running | Pushing Forward for Ultraboost 19

Washington Football Team | Charting a New Path for an Iconic Institution. Together.

Quest Diagnostics | Reinventing the Quest Digital Patient Experience

Scarlet | Launching an On-Demand Healthcare Offering During a Pandemic

National Council on Aging (NCOA) | A Personalized Digital Experience for America's Older Adults

NBC Olympics | 16 Days With the World's Biggest Website

NBC Sports | Going Local: An NBC Sports App to Connect Fans and Home Teams

Morton Salt | Putting More Salt on US Tables

Rockwell Group | Behind the Design of Rockwell Group

Xywav | A Flexible Component Library for the Jazz Brand

Mailchimp | Launching the New Digital Home for Tomorrow's Filmmakers

MetLife Investment Management | A New Platform for the Industry Powerhouse

The Venetian | Redefining Luxury in Las Vegas

Nexstar Media Group | Helping 130+ Local News Stations Transition to Digital

StuyTown | Human Design Built for Scale

Mailchimp | A Digital Platform for Emerging Writers and Creators

Giffords | Launching a Powerful Resource to Spark Action on Gun Violence

CNN | Understanding American Elections, One Visualization at a Time

Dignity Health | Delivering a Best-In-Class Digital Experience

PGIM | Unifying PGIM's Global Asset Management Network

Xerox | Making Now Work: A New Campaign for a New Time

Eurosport | Bringing Live Sports to the Palm of Your Hand

MCM | Using Data to Empower an Iconic Luxury Brand for Growth

Moncler | Bridging the Audience Gap with Moncler

CoinDesk | Relaunching a Pillar of the Blockchain Community

Nasdaq MarketSite | Nasdaq's Global HQ in NYC Gets a Pervasive Digital Infusion

J.P. Morgan | Powering the Financial Leader's Acquisition Engine

BBC News | Finite News Optimized for the Video Generation

The Council on Foreign Relations | Modernizing the Digital Presence of a Storied Institution

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library | Defining the New Digital Museum Experience

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco | A Modern Identity System Uniting Two Eclectic Museums

The Jewish Museum | Bridging the Museum's Physical and Digital Experiences

Input | A Brand New Destination About Technology in Our Lives

Nylon | Re-introducing an Iconic Publishing Brand

Sky Italia | A Modern Digital Experience for the Italian Media Platform

United Technologies | Uniting a Quarter Million Employees Under One Platform

One Night | An App Experience Fit for One Night of Spontaneity

Facebook | Digital Tools to Revive and Inspire the Journalism Industry

Xfinity Mobile | Launching Comcast's Category-Breaking Mobile Service

MotorTrend | A Gaming App Experience for Car Connoisseurs

Burger King | Creating a Movement by Bringing Back Burger King's Chicken Fries

Variety Magazine | Rebuilding Variety's Online Experience

Condé Nast | Distinguishing GQ France as a Leading Lifestyle Voice for French Men

Burger King | A 360 Campaign Rewarding March Madness Fans

Hearst | Creating a Differentiated Yet Useful Site Experience

Hearst | Matching Hearst's Digital Experience to Its Physical Publications

InStyle | Building a New, Responsive InStyle.com

Finlandia | Creating a Digital Campaign Toasting the Less Ordinary Aspects of Life

LA Times | The Los Angeles Times Makeover

NBC Universal | NBCUniversal.com

Outernet | Outernet Satellite Dish

Bloomberg | A Completely Original Take on Political Coverage

Starwood | Maximizing Preferred Guest Rewards Redemption

NY.gov | A New Online Presence for New York State

The Webby Awards | An Inspiring New Digital Home for the Arbiters of the Best on the Web

DSQUARED | A New Online Experience for International Fashion House DSQUARED2

San Francisco Travel Association | Creating a Product Worthy of One of Earth's Most Beautiful Places

The Green Bay Packers | A Game-Changing Mobile Experience

Guggenheim Partners | A United Digital Vision for an Innovative Investment Manager

The Huffington Post | A Redesign for the 10th Anniversary

H&R Block | A New Tax Offering for Expats

SiriusXM | Creating a Sophisticated Product Rooted in SiriusXM Content

Visit California | Experience California Like Never Before

Globe And Mail | The Globe and Mail Adopts a Responsive Philosophy

Bloomberg | Creating a Smarter, Faster Bloomberg.com

G6 Hospitality | A New, Reliable and Efficient Motel6.com

Vanity Fair | Transforming a Summit Site into a Responsive, Flexible Destination

Bloomberg | A High-Impact Ad Strategy for Bloomberg Media

H&R Block | A Tool for Doubling the Speed of Tax Completion

Stylight | Making Style Happen by Crafting an Unforgettable Brand Experience

LBCI | Setting the Benchmark for Future Lebanese Digital Experiences

New York State Senate | A Digital Platform for Transparency, Engagement and Communication

H&R Block | Block Advisors, a Financial Planning Service Built Around You

Communication Arts | A New Era for the Iconic Inspirational Hub

Burger King | Introducing Grilled Dogs with Snoop Dogg

WWE | Building a Content Platform for Heavy Lifting

International Rescue Committee | A Responsive Site for the World's First Responders

HearstLive | The World From a Hearst Point of View

The Outline | The First Modern Mutation in Digital Publishing

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab | A Digital Platform Transforming the Medical Field

NBC News | A New Experience for Digital News

NBC News | Launching Three News Verticals for the Media Giant

MIT Sloan School of Management | Crafting a Platform for Ideas Made to Matter

Brand USA | Amplifying the USA as an International Travel Destination

U.S. Chamber of Commerce | A Brand and Platform for Small Business Partnerships

Rivian | Launching the World's First Electric Adventure Vehicle

American Express | Turning an Acquisition Journey into a Bento Box

Jiffy Lube | Building a Better Customer Experience: Online and Inside the Garage

American Bar Association | Modernizing One of the World's Largest Professional Organizations

Sunbrella | Redefining the Digital Textile Space

The Scene | Introducing The Scene, Conde Nast's Ultimate Content Platform

The Guardian | A Native Platform for One of the World's Most Iconic Publishers

Indigo AG | Adopting Regenerative Practices with the Terraton Initiative

Woodford Reserve | Creating a 3-Act Story Based Around Learning, Tasting and Cocktails

Comcast | Innovating the Customer Experience from Pipeline to Platform

Axe | An Iconic Men's Grooming Brand Known for Bold Marketing

Pulped | Providing Provocative, Alternative and Irreverent Video Content

Foursquare | Visualizing Data for the Platform's Pinpoint Ad Product

Consumer Reports | Turning a Transactional Brand into a Shared Lifestyle Community

The New Center | A New Home Devoted to Saving the American Political Discourse

NYCEDC | A New Hub for New Yorkers to Grow Their Business

New York Life | What 170 Years of Success Looks Like for Today's Evolving World

TEGNA | Creating a Centralized CMS for 39 Local News Stations

The Truth | Rebuilding a Revolutionary Brand for Modern Times

Yonder Music | Yonder Music Hear Forever

NBC News | NBC's Iconic Morning Show Becomes a Digital Lifestyle Destination

Citi Ventures | A Mobile Banking Service for a New Generation

Prong | Redesigning the New All-In-One Prong PWR Case

Comcast Corporate | From Corporate to Modern: Comcast's Brand New Platform

C40 Cities Finance Facility | A Platform Built for a More Sustainable Future

Nuveen | Giving an Age-Old Investment Behemoth New Digital Prowess

NBC News | Designing Snapchat's First Daily-News Program

Get in Touch

  • Find Us

    One World Trade Center,
    62nd Floor

    New York, NY 10007

    More Offices
  • Work With Us

  • Press

  • Careers

    See All Open Positions

Continue toSays a LotThe Things We Make

Says a Lot —

Latest

Ad Age Logo
News — 

Ad Age | Amazon Launches Campaign For Its Ad Business Telling Brands It's More Than E-Commerce

News — 

Little Black Book | Code and Theory Launch Creator and Community Platform Rally's Rebrand

Anne Sachs Headshot
News — 

Little Black Book | Code and Theory Appoints Anne Sachs as Senior Director of Editorial Strategy

W3 Logo
News — 

W3 Awards | Code and Theory wins Best in Show and Gold & Silver Awards

TTP Youth Group Yellow Backdrop Aidan Fox Diego 2
News — 

Ad Age | The Trevor Project Rebrands to Better Reflect Today's LGBTQ Youth

Campaign US Logo
News — 

Campaign US | The Trevor Project rebrands for the next LGBTQ generation

Fast Company 2
News — 

Fast Company | Code and Theory Recognized in 2021 Innovation by Design Awards

51214149 2217163268340077 2659010043885649920 n
News — 

MUSE by Clio | How We're Making a Long-Term Impact on DEI, 5% at a Time

Get in Touch

  • Find Us

    One World Trade Center,
    62nd Floor

    New York, NY 10007

    More Offices
  • Work With Us

  • Press

  • Careers

    See All Open Positions