Blake Hunsicker 🇺🇸

Senior designer, Washington Post


What reading the news is like.

I am driven by the idea that design, automation and information architecture can make complex, changing news stories fun to explore and easier to understand.

See my resume and feel free to reach me at blakehunsicker at gmail dot com.



Context is the Post's annotation app. I have been working on it since I started at the org.

MLB stats card.
An unused politics card design.

The original idea, which was too ambitious to do all at once, was: personalize article content to A) show readers more of what they find interesting, and B) add context to topics they don't know much about.


We broke down the project into small chunks-- first, we tested embedding contextual information into a single article. Then, encouraged by good results, we created an annotation tool for the newsroom to experiment with, which they used on their Zika and technology coverage. We captured analytics on annotation open rates and, encouraged to continue, decided to focus our efforts on auto-writing and -embedding. (The newsroom hates manually creating, updating, and embedding these things, after all.)

So we redesigned it-- made an admin that accomodates APIs, richer designs, and more sophisticated grouping and info maintenance. We tested the new design and automation in sports, where we had access to rich stats we could programmatically call and embed in stories using in-house technology. This culminated last fall, when we auto-wrote and maintained 2,000 NFL player annotation cards, and auto-embedded those cards in countless articles. We are preparing to do the same for the upcoming MLB season in 2018, and are looking for subjects to experiment with outside of sports.

The annotation editor.
The annotation group page-- see all your coverage, and assign editing responsibilities.
Listing page of annotation groups.

We have barely scratched the surface here. I want to work on this until I retire.

The Post's Video Page

I redesigned this page in December, 2017.


Move the current video title and all relevant information above the fold, and increase visibility of other videos and channels.


This project required a fast turnaround, so I looked at all relevant analytics I could find and made two options for the video team. The designs above represent the final design in all ways except for the horizontal list of video sections, and the more-videos-on-hover menu. I included them above because I think they're great, and we only nixed them because of time constraints.


We did a good first pass at reimagining our video homepage. I've since handed this off to another designer, who will focus on improving on my original designs.

March Madness Brackets

Our March Madness brackets are an attempt to incorporate sports stats we license but don't get much use out of.

The bracket.
Repurposed stats pages.

To make a fun bracket that surfaces team stats and live game information.

Super Mario World.

Super Mario World, no joke-- I love how the plants wave in the fake wind, and how there's a trail to follow.


We decided to exploit any advantage we might have over the sites that do brackets every year and are known for their sports coverage-- i.e. ESPN, CBSSPorts, SBNation, etc.

It turns out we don't have much. But we played to our audience, who we can't assume are sports fans, and focused on surfacing interesting and useful information to them while they fill out their bracket-- like, for example, the scope of the tournament and the dizzying number of games played (so we added TV scheduling), the insane odds that make the odds of winning astronomical (so we added odds), and the best the team has done in the tournament.

Article Translate


This project came together in the best way possible-- spontaneously, by conversation. And editor told me that she wanted to be able to translate Zika stories into Spanish and Portuguese. I made a quick mockup and, after getting it approved, found developers and the project took off. I ended up playing a small role here, in the beginning. But I am very proud to have been at the groundfloor of this project, which didn't just get used for Zika stories-- it was ready in time for the Post to translate some of our early election coverage coverage into, at times, up to 5 languages.


My only afterthought is that the designs haven't aged well, and while they looked good against an old headline style, they are in need to a refresh.


SyriaFAQ is a FAQ page about the Syrian war, made up of video interviews I conducted in Turkey with Syrian refugees in October, 2013. I was a grad student and research fellow at News Deeply at the time.

At the Oncupinar border gate.

Explore how design and story framing can help introduce a topic as complex as the Syrian civil war. News sites aren't encyclopedias, but they can present intimidating information in a visually interesting and narrative way.

News Deeply's pilot site, Syria Deeply, had just launched and I was tasked with researching article templates. I was interested primarily in how they could flesh out their background sections that explained the conflict, the modern history of Syria and the context of the Arab Spring.


I wanted to build a template, shoot the video and do the original reporting-- I was (and still am) interested in how design can inform the questions you ask sources, camera angles, b-roll, and so on.

I had a number of ideas, but settled on using a FAQ to frame the conflict around several big questions. I then raised the money to go to Kilis, Turkey to interview Syrian refugees at the border.

I was inspired by Snow Fall, a huge interactive article that had come out several months before. But because it was only me, I chose to focus mainly on video, and edited the videos to stand alone, answering one question each.


I think this design has promise, but I don't like that the user has to open the videos individually-- if I could do it again, I'd design the page to play the videos one after another, and think more about how the three can be watched together. I'd also build a second page with further reading, photos, maps, and so on. It feels more like a companion piece or section of a larger story in hindsight.


Deepreader was a template I made in 2013 for an explainer that allows users to dive into sections of the story they found most interesting. I was a grad student and research fellow at News Deeply at the time.


News Deeply's pilot site, Syria Deeply, had just launched and I was tasked with researching article templates. I was interested primarily in how they could flesh out their background sections that explained the conflict, the modern history of Syria and the context of the Arab Spring.

Create an article UI that allowed users to focus on the subjects that most interest them without leaving the page.


After much trial and error making overly-extravagant templates (think parallax, sideways scrolling, etc.) the best solution was the simplest one— an expandable outline. I was heavily influenced by early bloggers like Dave Winer and Doc Searls, who both offered me feedback and advice as I researched article UI ideas during my last semester in school. Dave Winer's own software, Fargo (RIP) blew my mind when I first saw it.


There's a ton wrong with this one. For one, you can't update it without sending shivers through the rest of the document. This would have worked if A) only one person ever updated it, and they knew it intimately (which is totally unreasonable), or B) if it was more of a nested list, and the nested content wasn't so directly reliant on its parents, as the heavy paragraphs in my Deepreader tests undeniably are.

That said, I think the outline is a sublime design, universally understandable and visually simple. I love it and use it whenever I can.