Following the 2011 relaunch, Channel 4 was keen to build on their success. Clearleft were called in again to help bring a stronger focus to the unique correspondent-led, in-depth journalism that is central to the Channel 4 News brand. In addition, the dramatic rise in both phone and tablet consumption called for a re-examination of the mobile strategy.
The project began with a series of Clearleft-led design workshops. Conducted in our Brighton studio, the primary goal was to reach consensus on the project’s objectives and then – using a series of design games – generate ideas on how these could be achieved. Initial ideas were quickly visualised so that the team could assess their potential and likely development cost. By the end of this phase, it became clear that the primary objective was a move to a responsive design that would open the service to the rising numbers of mobile and tablet users. In doing so, Channel 4 News would become one of the first UK-based news sites to make this bold move.
We immediately recognised the need for collaboration on this project. Responsive design – especially when applied to an existing technology – requires solid communication between both front- and back-end developers. To achieve this we decided to spend the majority of our time co-located within the Channel 4 development team. Using tools such as LESS and Git ensured that the workflow remained quick and flexible throughout the process.
In addition to our responsive overhaul, Channel 4 was also keen to to refresh the design of the site. Since our initial engagement, the show’s identity had been successfully updated and the new visual language was incorporated into the relaunch. The departure from the strong, solid colouring towards a more restrained, subtle palette employing generous white-space was designed to provide a simple canvas that allows the content to take centre stage.
This is a fantastic way of combining the lively social media activity of our team with the brilliant journalism they produce in a live, dynamic feed.
The Result: 4 News Refreshed and Responsive
The introduction of new features such as has provided a welcome means for the editorial term to publish shorter-form, behind-the-scenes content. In addition, the highly-configurable stream component, which was introduced site-wide, supports a more cohesive experience and exposed the breadth and diversity of content. Users now have the flexibility to consume content by type (article, blog post, video, gallery, tweet), topic or via individual correspondents.
Our engagement for this phase lasted three months. The site was launched in August 2012 and has so far exceeded all expectations. Analytics already show a marked increase in mobile traffic and we look forward to working with the Channel 4 and ITN teams to evolve the product in the coming year.