Column Five: Doing Good Work with Good People

With Adobe Edge Animate (formerly just Adobe Edge) on the Creative Cloud, you can create animated, interactive content for websites using web standards including HTML, CSS and JavaScript. In Introduction to Animation, a three-week course from Adobe expert Brian Wood, you‘ll learn what Edge Animate can do and jump into your first project.


Josh Ritchie, CCO and cofounder of design studio Column Five

A couple of months ago, the team at HOW received an email detailing an annual report for Krochet Kids. We were immediately enthralled. This was not just any annual report. Not only did it visualize the nonprofit’s annual report in a meaningful way—it managed to do so with nothing but string art and photography. Needless to say, we wanted to get to know the creatives behind this design.

So we were excited to talk with Josh Ritchie, CCO and cofounder of design studio Column Five and co-author of Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling.

“Our studio helps brands connect with people, through engaging visual content,” Ritchie says. “Some people call it ‘content marketing,’ others call it ‘visual storytelling.’ Both work for me, and I like the former a bit better than the latter.”

A Design Studio With Big Plans

Founded in 2009 by Ross Crooks, Jason Lankow and Josh Ritchie, Column Five now has a total of 47 staff members, with notable clients including Microsoft, NFL, LinkedIn, Nike, Sony, Red Bull, Harvard, Deloitte, Donors Choose, the United Nations and Goodwill. (Meet the whole Column Five team here.)

Design studio Column Five; annual report


When asked about the driving force or philosophy behind the studio, Ritchie talks big plans. “We want to help to build a world where everyone can live healthy and fulfilled lives. We do good work with good people. Through trusting partnerships, we build and distribute powerful visual content that educates, engages and inspires.” He goes to note that their core values include the following: do good work, be good to each other, value their partners, be humble and experiment.

“We care about the people that we work with, and we want to help them succeed,” Ritchie says. “I think that is our key differentiator, that, and the fact that we have been doing this for a long time doesn’t hurt.”

And according to Ritchie, they don’t plan to stop anytime soon. “We want to make a difference by bringing clarity to important issues, and to continue to work with great people on fulfilling work. Simple as that.”

jacque; Column Five design studio; Krochet Kids annual report

Column Five design studio; Krochet Kids annual report

A peek at just one interactive element of Krochet Kids’ 2013 annual report, designed by Column Five. A central interactive plots economic, physical, psychological, intellectual, social and spiritual indicators that measure the progress each woman makes on the road to empowerment.


Column Five design studio; Krochet Kids annual report akongo

Column Five’s annual report design for Krochet Kids (which can be viewed here in its entirety) is just one example of that. “I think the best part of this project was just in getting to work on something that we truly believed in. The guys behind KK are good people, and I’m glad that we were able to partner with a group that both appreciates great creative work, and who is doing something good to make this world a better place. If all of our projects could be like that, I would not complain!”

500X500_Beyond-the-Color-Chart-BootcampBut even with serious-minded intentions to better the world, there’s always room for play. “Last year, I had the personal goal of finding a way to get a ventriloquist dummy into a video for a client, and I’m proud to say we succeeded,” Ritchie says. “For whatever reason, the video hasn’t been released, but somehow that dummy (that we’ll call ‘Bruce’ for fun) made it off the set, and back to our CA HQ and is constantly showing up in the most random and creepy places.”

Column Five has recently launched a software startup called Visage, which will empower non-designers to create their own data visualizations. “We’re in the midst of some cool things on that front, so if you take the time to visit our site, please sign up for the newsletter— we’ll keep you posted as things develop,” Ritchie says.

They’re also preparing to refresh and relaunch Visual News, which they created with the goal of “developing a world-class publication focused on visualization, data journalism, and you probably guessed it, visualizing the news,” Ritchie says. “Exciting times, these are!”

Additional work by Column Five:

Column Five design studio; infographics examples



BalancedBlog; Column Five design studio; infographics examples

See more of Column Five’s work here

mw-how-imageDon’t miss all the latest issues of HOW magazineHOW strives to serve the business, technological and creative needs of graphic-design professionals with a practical mix of essential business information, up-to-date technological tips, the creative whys and hows behind noteworthy projects, and profiles of professionals who are influencing design. And now you can get it delivered in print or digital format!