The Asian and Latin Correspondent relaunches were the result of 4-5 months of hard work on a new design and the start of a new direction for the Correspondent network.
They were were created from scratch to suit the new content being produced and the change of editorial style, led by the Chief Editor in Thailand. The previous websites were slow and cumbersome, taking up too much time and resources just keeping the servers from crashing, and that really didn’t make for smooth demonstrations to potential clients.
More focus was placed on the individual contributors, country pages were also been given more exposure (providing location-specific advertising opportunities), and the mobile-friendly design has allowed Hybrid News to offer more ad placements for every device.
Asian Correspondent and Latin Correspondent have now been future-proofed and pave the way for the next generation of Correspondent Network websites. The new and improved sites provide a solid base from which to update the network with additional features and functionality.
Working with the Bristol, Bogotá and Chiang Mai offices, I led the design and build of the project over several months from initial discussions and wireframing, to development and subsequent launch.
The best and worst bits of the previous websites, as well as the thoughts and experiences of the editors and journalists, were reviewed in order to start building a picture of what the perfect solution would look like. Mood boards were created, contemporary sites were dissected and a project scope was drawn out.
Next was the wireframe stage, where simplistic layouts were created and debated until the best fit structure could be found. Considerations included image sizes that work well not only aesthetically but also with news aggregation services and social networks, how the layout will change responsively for different devices, the width of sidebars to best support the chosen advert placements and countless other factors.
Structural elements decided, I got to work designing real pixel mock-ups that could be placed in the browser for all parties to see simulated pages and provide feedback. Each template was designed from scratch and provided accurate visual guides for the development stage.
After approval of each of the designs, I began developing the WordPress theme and got to work creating each new bit of functionality required to achieve the pre-agreed goals. Well organised SASS stylesheets were implemented and structured HTML5 templates with up to date schema data were hand coded for a lightweight and search engine friendly site.
Months of hard work, countless uploads to Bitbucket and the launch date in sight, the beta version was ready to be aggressively tested. With nearly 200,000 articles to be moved onto a fresh installation of WordPress and multiple issues with the old and abused database, it was no mean feat connecting everything up.
Finally, after much stress-testing and bug fixing the project was ready to launch. We made the switch and immediately saw the strain on the server diminish, received many positive comments from our readers and celebrated a successful launch!
The sites have since seen an increase in traffic, better user retention, lower bounce rates, longer time spent on site and an enormous boost in speed.