The best long reads of 2022

Discover our choice of four of the best design long reads of 2022. We’ll outline each piece’s contribution to the design landscape, and suggest how you can make your next long-read design just as brilliant.

readymag blog_The Best Long Reads of 2022

Long-form content poses a challenge to both writer and designer – how do I hold the viewer’s attention? The answer is immersion. For the writer, this means crafting a great story. For the designer, this means creating a relaxed reading experience that doesn’t distract from, and ideally amplifies, the narrative.

Not sure what that would look like in practice? Keep reading to discover our choice of four of the best design long reads of 2022. We’ll outline each piece’s contribution to the design landscape, and suggest how you can make your next long-read design just as brilliant.

‘How to build a web portfolio with zero clients’ – Web Designer Depot

Our first long read is ‘How to build a web portfolio with zero clients’ by Daniel Segun over at Web Designer Depot. It’s a great question – and one many beginner designers are faced with.

A design portfolio is not only a smart way to highlight your best projects, but it’s also an essential bit of advertising that will help you showcase your talents and gain new clients. The catch? How on earth do you build a portfolio if you haven’t had a single client yet?

In his practical response, Segun reassures new designers that all is not lost and recommends they follow five key steps to creating a design portfolio:

  1. Take on design challenges. Even if you don’t win, it’s a new portfolio piece.
  2. Work on personal projects. This helps develop a range of creative skills you’ll get to show off.
  3. Create clones of websites. It allows you to demonstrate your attention to detail.
  4. Build websites for family or friends. Even if it’s for free, a client is a client!
  5. Draw on the experience of others. You’ll find new ways to build your portfolio by doing this.

What we love about the topic:

  • It’s a tactical article that sets out to solve a problem.
  • There’s an easy breakdown of practical steps to follow.
  • It completes what is set out to do.

What we love about the design:

  • It starts with a punchy title that highlights the problem at hand.
  • The large font size is attention-grabbing.
  • Casual cartoon-style imagery is inviting and light-hearted.
  • Generous line spacing is easy on the eye.
  • Stock image aligns with house style.

‘Is AI a wedge between designers and creativity?’ – PRINT

Our next long read, written by Frank J Martinez and published over at PRINT, opts for a  simplistic design to complement its philosophical bent. ‘Is AI a wedge between designers and creativity?’ dives into the world of big data to consider the implications of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in creative industries.

Martinez stresses that AI can be used as more than a way of making art (‘deep fakes’ being an infamous example) but also as a way of using a given set of information to control the type of art that is created. AI tools can be great time-savers for designers, automatically adjusting exposure, color-matching, or filling in a missing section of an image.

While this might sound great, the use of AI can create an “echo chamber effect” – AI can only “act” on what it learns, and it then learns from what it has acted upon This makes data selection crucial in avoiding the types of biases that could ultimately stifle creativity. Ultimately, Martinez cautions against the use of AI as anything more than a basic design tool – but will his advice be followed?

What we love about the topic:

  • Timely in the age of automation.
  • Writing provides a detailed exposition of the topic.
  • The poignant piece asks the reader to ask themselves questions about ethical design.

What we love about the design:

  • The header image features a juxtaposition of the classic and modern.
  • The image is provocative – could a machine create this?
  • The author's illustration demonstrates AI techniques.
  • Font assists readability for large text blocks in a jargon-heavy topic.

For a bonus long read on this topic, check out ‘Is AI a threat or an ally to designers and the industry?’ over at Design Week.

‘The Sisyphus fallacy or: Quit trying so damn hard’ – Communication Arts

Next up is ‘The Sisyphus fallacy or: Quit trying so damn hard’, written by Ernie Schneck, featured in Communication Arts’ advertising column. Creative, thought-provoking, and peppered with words of wisdom from the greats, this long read makes the list for proving that ‘long’ doesn’t have to mean ‘long-winded’.

Encouraging creatives to design more and think less, Schneck’s advice seems timely in an age of doom scrolling and self-doubt. As Schneck neatly concludes: “If you want to make a name for yourself, if you want to do the kind of work that has other creatives ‘wishing they had done that,’ my advice is let it fly, quit sabotaging yourself with things that don’t matter and be yourself. Not Sisyphus.”

What we love about the topic:

  • Poses challenging ideas we’ve all come to face in the form of shared thoughts from designers we look up to.
  • Speaks to the reality of imposter syndrome and self-doubt in the industry.
  • Weaves together multiple narratives.

What we love about the design:

  • Drop cap lettering gently leads the viewer into the text.
  • Juxtaposition of typography.
  • Great readability with simple right-alignment.

‘Designing virtual fashion models: the good, bad and (intentionally) ugly’ – Design Week

Our final long read comes from Becky Philips, principal creative at Checkland Kindleysides, and is published at UK-based Design Week. ‘Designing virtual fashion models: good, bad and (intentionally) ugly’ explores the use of virtual models in high fashion campaigns – and what it might say about our use of technology in design.

So-called “synthetic influencers” – or virtual models – are digitally-created characters that can be used within social media advertising, print magazines, or even runway shows.

Might these creations further influence conventional beauty standards? Or provide creative new avenues for the gamification of fashion? The jury is out, but the topic is captivating – let’s explore what this long read did well.

What we love about the topic:

  • Increasingly relevant as technology permeates more industries.
  • Engages the audience through a potentially divisive issue.
  • Highlights new opportunities for cross-medium design.
  • Provides real-life examples.

What we love about the design:

  • Immersive grid-style mosaic banner.
  • Minimalist design places focus on the narrative.
  • Spacious margins create breathing room.

Create stunning long-read designs with Readymag

Aesthetic cues lead viewers to make preconscious judgments of a site – even before a single word has been read. With the stakes for website design higher than ever, creating a long-read design that prioritizes accessibility and readability is key.

Readymag’s in-browser design solutions offer an intuitive toolkit of features which make crafting your perfect long-read design a breeze – without coding. Our selection of video tutorials, guides, and templates are on hand to provide support as you create new forms of visual storytelling.