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Building a Media Publishing Platform

A smart, modern network facelift and tech upgrade

Over the course of 2016, I led the UX Design team to create a new publishing platform for AspenCore media properties, a business unit within Arrow Electronics (NYSE: ARW). The project included visual redesigns, UX improvements, and implementing a standard back-end for a suite of media sites. I learned a great deal about our users, mainly Electrical Engineers, throughout the process and want to reflect on those learnings.

Role
Director of UX
Responsiblities
Team Leadership
Product Strategy
Product Design
UX Design + Research

Overview


Creating the Ultimate Engineering Resource

For news, tutorials, forums, technical documents, and more.

This was truly a team effort. Big thank you to my team, specifically, Paul Tarantino, Laren Dubkowski, and Shannon Braach who all contributed greatly to this year-long project. Our team dynamic made it possible to accomplish all we did in such a short amount of time.

In December 2015, I was approached by our managing director to define and implement a plan to improve our end product and workflow of a group of media sites. As a first step, I wanted to clearly outline the project goals and roadmap to ensure the stakeholders were on board with the recommendations. I presented a 23 page document to the executive leadership team and we were given approval to begin work.

Back of the Napkin Concept


Below is the initial concept for the platform. Essentially, all sites would live on the publishing platform to create internal efficiencies and to provide ways to improve the overall experience for our audience.

Design Strategy


Build a Cohesive, Modular Platform

For the network's current and future media properties.

Principles
Media Platform Examples

“Style is the servant of brand and content. Style without purpose is noise.”

— Jeffrey Zeldman
The Year in Design

Mobile First


Know your audience. As several of the sites were not responsive, part of our messaging and strategy to the business was the "Mobile First" concept. Hard to believe that media sites exist that aren't responsive, but they do!

"Mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop (42%)" Source

Principles
Media RWD Examples

Media Network


I won't go into great detail about the cross-platform ad strategy, but it was an important aspect to the project. Imagine a sales team selling ad spots and campaigns across 7+ sites with no standard ad sizes. We identified standard IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) ad sizes and implemented them across the sites. Not only did this reduce the media kit by dozens of pages, but a clearer offering is much easier to sell and understand.

An aspect of selling media is channels and categories. Advertisers may want to buy in a very specific channel and we needed to create standards across the entire media network. We accomplished this goal through a tagging system.

Storytelling


Rich Ad Campaigns. Advertorials. Sponsored Content. Native Advertising. Taking ads beyond the banner. Good for users, good for advertisers. An aspect of the new offering was creating advertorials for our clients. This was popularized by the New York Times with stories like this for Nest. Our team created a demo for the sales team to use as a tool to sell to advertisers.

Publishing Platform


Benefits and Risks

What are the benefits and risks to building all sites on one unified platform?

Benefits
Risks

Roadmap


Timeline Structure


Tackling several sites at one time with multiple contributing teams and disciplines required a timeline overview to ensure we weren't missing any key activities. I created a timeline example to communicate roles and tasks to each group.


“Every dollar a company invests in UX can yield a return of up to $100”

— Tom Gilb
Principles of Software Engineering Management

Product Design Process


Process is the Lifeblood of Innovation

I am a huge supporter of process and organization to allow for creativity. When your brain isn't bogged down by tasks and next steps, it can use its power to create beyond the checklist.

Design Research


Over the year, we utilized dozens of UX tools and activities including: Competitive Analysis, Personas, Stakeholder Interviews, User Journey Map, KPIs, Moodboards, Brainstorming, User Flows, Taxonomies, Quantitative Survey, Use Cases and Scenarios, and Information Architecture maps. We used these to better understand user needs and product requirements and to validate our assumptions.

Interaction Design


Sketches, Wireframes, Prototypes, Responsive Design

Visual Design


Styleguide, Layout, Typography, Color

User Testing


User Surveys, Metrics Analysis, Quantitative Survey, Usability Testing, A/B Testing, Accessibility Analysis

Before & After


Electronic Tutorials Before

Electronic Tutorials After

Electronic Tutorials Mobile

Before & After


ElectroSchematics Before

ElectroSchematics After

ElectroSchematics Mobile

Before & After


Elektroda Before

Elektroda After

Elektroda Mobile

New Site


Power Electronics News

Power Electronics News Mobile


“Design is the intermediary between information and understanding.”

— Hans Hofmann

And if you made it this far...

Thank You