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Q&A with Su Yin Khoo, StopPress’s original designer

As part of our anniversary special, we’ve chatted to Su Yin Khoo, the original designer of the StopPress website which was created in 2009. Here, Su Yin talks throwbacks and what she hopes to see by 2029.

1) Can you please tell us about your last 10 years, jobs, roles, family happenings, latest ventures.

I left Tangible shortly after their acquisition by the Image Centre Group to work in a small B2B design agency, Lee ter Wal Design where I was a senior designer, working with people like Performance LabKiwa DigitalReturn on Science, and Codemania

journeyed to Antarctica for a month. It was rad at the time but melancholic now given that the world is basically on fire and everything is melting.

During that time also, I was the co-organiser of Gather Conference, a one-day event where 360ish participants from the creative and tech industry set their own agenda to talk about their work, industry, side projects — basically anything interesting. Sadly, that has come to an end but we may yet think about what to do with it next.

Lee ter Wal disbanded in late 2015 and I conveniently had our first child a few months later. I took about a year off for bubs and working intermittently with people that I enjoy working with including Extraordinary TalesPredator Free NZKiwigrass, and presentation slides.

I’ve never stopped being an advocate of active transport, most notably cycling — which I picked up during my time in HB Media. I’ve even managed to convince Ben Fahy, the inaugural editor, to cycle to work! So it’s no surprise that I’ve kept cycling throughout my pregnancy, worked on Cycling Auckland’s rebranding, became a poster girl for Auckland Transport one year, and met the ‘owner of the Viaduct’.

And just before baby number two came along a couple of months ago, I joined the team at Kāhu Partners.

2) Do you remember the original brief / design idea for StopPress?

I may be misremembering but generally, it was something like: HB Media had just completed a merger with Tangible and they were keen to start something akin to New Zealand’s version of Mumbrella, as NZ Marketing magazine was a title in our stable now.

There was barely any online presence for the marketing and advertising reporting space and we were keen to fill that gap. We wanted something snappy and almost gonzo-like and I had about a week or two to design, code and deploy the Stoppress website. Which we did!

3) Did you face any challenges / push back with any ideas you had with the first design?

Not much push back as I was in constant iteration back-and-forth with the Stoppress team (Vincent Heeringa, Matt Cooney, Ben Fahy, and Vernene Medcalf) so nothing was a surprise reveal as such. Most of the challenges related to finding and squashing bugs once the site was in production.

4) What was the landscape back like for you as a designer back in 2009?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ here’s a landscape photo of my desk back in 2009

Su Yin’s desk back in 2009.

5) What type of design do you focus on now ten years later?

I’m moving away from coding and designing websites, although the right project might pull me back in. When I get back into it, I’ll continue helping early-growth companies with their branding and storytelling challenges, in addition to working on interesting projects with my favourite people. 

6) What (if any) where some of the best lessons you learnt working on StopPress?

Content is king! The design facilitates the storytelling but it was always Ben (Fahy)’s dry humour that carried and made Stoppress what it is.

7) What was the StopPress team like back in the beginning? Was it close knit?

Holy moly! They were some of the best and fun people to work with. I always regard my time with HB Media/Tangible as one of the most enjoyable, and so formative for an early-career immigrant like me. They always felt like family to me and I feel so privileged to be a part of that story. 

9) Is there anything you wish to see with the new site?

You may have to kill your beloved popups and site tracking. 😉

This story is part of our wider celebration of StopPress’s 10 year anniversary. To check out more, click here.

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