Whitehorse Daily Star

Overview

The Star is one of two local news media companies in Whitehorse, Yukon and was founded more than a century ago. They hired my company in 2014 to re-design their website and migrate decades’ worth of online content to the Ibbit data management system.

Strategy

I had gone through a similar exercise six years prior in 2008 when the Star’s website content was moved from a custom-built application to ExpressionEngine, but with visitors on mobile phones now outpacing all other types of website traffic, the Star sought to re-design their website again, but this time as mobile-friendly. Other objectives were to increase advertising revenue, grow subscription sales and add new types of useful features for their readers.

Getting started

I started by mapping out the public-facing information architecture of the Star website, knowing that what was designed in the previous version still worked fine. That said, new sections, features and pages needed to be added, and so with the project team at my side we figured out what should go where. On the back-end, content was first cleaned up through a series of automated scripts and then imported into Ibbit.

Exploration

After the architecture was in place, I designed a new system of visual elements that were very simple and clear so that in the long-term, they would still look modern and attractive. Together with the project team, I came up with the basic functional building blocks for the entire website which at that time had reached more than 50,000 stories, 30,000 user comments and 20,000 photographs.

Placeholder

Coming to life

As the website came together over a short period of sprints, my design work was built and implemented, then iterated upon as we discovered problems and came up with ideas for how to solve the issues we were encountering. I prefer to work this way: Start with something, then as you use and test the prototype improve and expand as you go. I believe this approach results in a much more appropriate and informed design system.

In the end

The current Whitehorse Daily Star went live in 2015. As were the objectives, the website has seen its advertising revenues increase, subscription sales grow and visitor traffic climb with each passing year. My company continues to support the website via both design and technical improvements.