Focus on the intelligent story.

How could our small team make any impact on the giant eco-system of content in Channel 4’s News Room? This is a story of how small changes make a big difference.
Graham Smith
We’re in the news room, in the centre of all the activity, watching the team capture, edit, and share events from all over the world. It’s fast-moving, exciting, and iterative. In that moment, I realised that we could also design in a way that harnesses that same excitement.

James Box, UX Director, Team lead

The challenge for the Channel 4 News Room

We had worked with Channel 4 News before, designing their mobile apps and refreshing their website, but this was the biggest challenge yet. We needed to find tiny ways to make big changes to a vast eco-system of content production to make it more suitable for mobile consumption. Not only did the new website need to adapt to many devices and screen sizes, it needed to adapt to the fast-paced way the news itself gets produced.

Channel 4 and ITN work together to deliver the news, which means there are lots of people involved at each stage. They have an enormous responsibility to the public but their online strategy didn’t reflect the many ways in which news is captured and consumed. The Channel 4 news team have a passion for the power of journalism, so together we set out to design a way to convey that passion on the web.

Go straight to results ↓
Channel 4 Team
The channel 4 news team. Image courtesy of ITN News

Misconception 1: Transitioning to “Agile” will solve our problems.

The agile manifesto was born out of a frustration with traditionally managed projects. But I don’t think it solved the problem. It actually created another one. I’ve seen teams and organisations go from waterfall, which reduces their ability to compete in the market and deliver value, to dysfunction and paralysis when implementing agile.

That’s largely due to the various interpretations of the manifesto borne of misunderstanding. Bottom-up as well as top-down support is needed in order for a successful agile transformation to take place in any organisation.

The agile manifesto was born out of a frustration with traditionally managed projects. But I don’t think it solved the problem. It actually created another one. I’ve seen teams and organisations go from waterfall, which reduces their ability to compete in the market and deliver value, to dysfunction and paralysis when implementing agile.

That’s largely due to the various interpretations of the manifesto borne of misunderstanding. Bottom-up as well as top-down support is needed in order for a successful agile transformation to take place in any organisation.

I remember a really good sense of collaboration. There were a lot of moving parts—us at Clearleft, the team at Channel 4, but also the team at ITN. I think we had a really good working relationship between all of those people.
James Bates
James Bates
Channel 4 Team
Sketching from lo-fi to hi-fi

Misconception 1: Transitioning to “Agile” will solve our problems.

The agile manifesto was born out of a frustration with traditionally managed projects. But I don’t think it solved the problem. It actually created another one. I’ve seen teams and organisations go from waterfall, which reduces their ability to compete in the market and deliver value, to dysfunction and paralysis when implementing agile.

That’s largely due to the various interpretations of the manifesto borne of misunderstanding. Bottom-up as well as top-down support is needed in order for a successful agile transformation to take place in any organisation.

The agile manifesto was born out of a frustration with traditionally managed projects. But I don’t think it solved the problem. It actually created another one. I’ve seen teams and organisations go from waterfall, which reduces their ability to compete in the market and deliver value, to dysfunction and paralysis when implementing agile.

That’s largely due to the various interpretations of the manifesto borne of misunderstanding. Bottom-up as well as top-down support is needed in order for a successful agile transformation to take place in any organisation.

Channel 4 website screen shots

How do you conduct the visual design with such a strong existing brand?

Once we’d prioritised the content, we set about creating a visual design to support it. Some of the site’s visual direction was influenced by the design of the news studio itself. We created more white space, bolder typography, and Channel 4 inspired iconography to showcase the journalism.

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.

Channel 4 home page Channel 4 bottom of home page
John Snow didn't tweet or blog before this. Because of the site redesign, the team started thinking about news in a new way.
James Box
Channel 4 Team

The Results

Change in behaviour.

Radically improve existing products and services, or create them from scratch. Optimise a key interaction to get big results, give your website a new lease of life, or work with the team to conceive, create and build on an entirely new idea.

Get clear on your strategy

You might need a targeted intervention, to unpick a thorny problem, or a fresh perspective on your process. Our strategists work with you to research and develop an appropriate digital strategy that integrates with your organisation.

Transform your digital culture

Upskill your team, develop your processes, integrate design thinking and introduce new habits. By working closely with the Clearleft team as part of your in-house process, or in a bespoke workshop setting, you get an external perspective that’s directly relevant to your needs.

Create a new universe Penguin Random House
Inject energy Evo Motoring Magazine