Challenge and approach
In order for the platform to serve its purpose, it needed to house all the features expected of a content site, provide the same high quality and engaging experience of HuffPost, but be flexible for each idea to feel differentiated. From a back-end perspective, our modular CMS would give us the ability to create a streamlined editorial workflow for the purpose of the pilot. From a front-end perspective however, creating a site shell that allowed for differentiation but felt relevant to the site content and target audience, without knowing what and who this would be up front, was the real difficulty.
With three sprints available to deliver the first phase of the project, the team broke down the deliverables in order for core pages and features to be made available for launch, with secondary pages and features to subsequently follow. Additionally, in order for the editorial teams to begin their work and to allow time for design to make headway in developing the front-end systems, the back-end would be built first and not in tandem with the front-end. A hybrid lean approach was adopted.
It was also decided that as HuffPost Pilot at its core was about content experimentation, the same would be done with the product itself. The team hadn’t worked on Google AMP or Facebook Instant Articles at this point, had yet to trial new infinite scroll recirculation technology, were keen to trial new prototyping methods, and to test out new page layout concepts. This was the perfect opportunity.