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Architecting the news - The Guardian's Container Model

A talk by Nick Haley at 2015 IA Summit

About the Talk

April 25, 2015 10:40 AM

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

How shipping containers and a blender has changed how the Guardian thinks about its digital products.

The information architecture of almost all news sites has remained the same for a long time, the formulaic approach often reflecting the internal structure of an organisation rather than how people actually think about content. In addition typically a homepage or section page will present content in a way which mirrors the navigation.

When the time came to redesign The Guardian’s core website and apps we challenged ourselves to think of new ways to improve the discovery and promotion of our content, not just on the homepage, but all our section pages, articles, live blogs, galleries and video pages.

Through a process of rapid iteration we came up with our innovative new container model and what we call “blended content” a radical approach to IA for the Guardian. Our blended approach has freed our content to appear anywhere in any combination.

In this talk I will cover the process we went through on our journey, what we learnt, what worked and what didn’t. In particular:

  • The challenge of redesigning the second biggest news site in the world
  • How we approached the problem
  • How we validated our ideas
  • How separating in page presentation from your navigation can allow you to be incredibly imaginative with how you curate content
  • How to convince senior stakeholders to come with you on the journey
  • How we use data to inform and validate our IA decisions
  • The future for our brave new IA

Session Takeaways * News is messy. But by pushing the business to take a different approach to IA you can liberate your content from the shackles of where people think it should live * Don’t give up - new ideas will always be initially rejected, but if you believe in what you're doing is better for your audience you will get there in the end * How using prototypes and user research will help you iterate and build confidence in your ideas and reduce risk in the project * How data should inform what you do from the start

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