Crain’s Chicago iPad Application

Crain’s slogan is “How The Who’s Who, Knows What’s What.” Everyone in the windy city’s business community depends on it to stay on top of things.

The editorial team at Crain’s didn’t hastily jump into the digital space when the iPhone and iPad hit the market. They knew they had to be in-market with a digital product, but didn’t want to do something out of fear of missing out.

Being a weekly publication is different than a daily news site or lifestyle monthly. Those differences were not trivial when considering how their editorial team is structured to deliver in-depth coverage. The business team at Crain’s understood their audience, and recognized many read it cover to cover. A large percentage of those readers do so on their commute on different forms of public transpiration.

The real value of Crain’s Chicago Business is a wholistic approach to the city since many businesses are so interconnected. Instead of taking the personalized filtered view of news so many digital product have, we proposed and designed the opposite. The iPad app was curated to and focused on adjacent placement of the stories. The insight for this came in our research. People would tell us how useful Crain’s was to networking because everyone immediately had something in common having read similar stories.


Client Crain’s Chicago Business

Strategy Brian Maggi, Brian Reilly, David Snyder, Matt Raettig

Concept Development Jeff Kelley, Matt Raettig, Linda Maggi

Prototype Jeff Kelley, Matt Raettig

Agency Idea Momentum, Inc.

Problem Framing

To kick the project off, we started with a deep dive into the core customer values of the publication.


A critical piece to the overall success was getting the CEO involved with the fuzzy front end of ideation. This approach ensured buy-in was baked-in.


Whiteboards are great, but butcher paper is even better. A large sheet was rolled out and lots of ideas were captured and expanded in realtime.


The Crain’s iPad experience focused on giving people a snapshot view of what’s going on in Chicago business holistically, not just by industry.

The interdependency of Chicago businesses such as real estate and technology needed to be visible and obvious – not something you need to look for.

The design strategy emphasized adjacency of stories so people could see the interconnectedness of Chicago’s commercial environment.