Financial Times

Financial Times: Lasting change for a media giant

Working with Red Badger has allowed the FT to see the future of our .com publishing model in a new light.

Christina Scott

Chief Product and Information Officer, Financial Times

Financial Times

The project

The Financial Times (FT) is one of the world’s best known and most respected news publications. The ‘pink paper’ has a good existing online offering with total circulation of over 750,000 readers, including 550,000 corporate memberships.


Red Badger was approached following our involvement in the FT Creative Summit - an initiative to bring together bright minds in software development to solve some of the publishing industry’s most pressing problems around the decline of advertising revenues and readership.

The FT knew that online news was changing fast, and their subscription model meant they had to deliver something above and beyond the news and services available for free. The next generation of ft.com was already on their minds, and now they needed a partner who could help envisage it and bring it to life.

Having been acquired by Nikkei in summer 2015, FT Group was able to review the teams and processes around the primary online business, and provide a space for change.

Challenge

There were two overarching challenges to solve for the FT

Delivery - To deliver the next generation ft.com homepage including the successful integration of UX and design across all other streams

Strategy - Creative team strategy across the entire online product portfolio

Core objectives included:

  • Introduce and embed Lean UX methodologies and Agile Design at an enterprise level
  • Increase speed to market
  • Raise quality level of design across the product group
  • Support an organisational shift towards taking an user-centred design (UCD) to product development
  • Place experts within the organisation who’ll continue to support these methods

Our approach

Learn

In order to demonstrate how collaboration between different functions of a product team can be optimised in a given environment, it is necessary to first learn about that environment. This is why we started our engagement by placing a core multi-disciplined product team central to the working group. Acting as a hub, we were physically, geographically and functionally central to the core offering of the next generation ft.com, the home page.

Planning workshop for website
Sketching first wireframes

In the initial phase of our engagement we redesigned and deployed a new home page in just seven weeks. This involved integrating React and GraphQL into the FT’s already cutting edge tech stack. Demonstrating not only an improved approach to delivery but adding value through introducing new technology.

Understand

After an initial period of delivering at speed into a live production environment we started to mix with the internal teams. Red Badger were able to share and explain their working processes and systems to new colleagues, creating the perfect environment to reassess the effectiveness of each stage of their workflow. Red Badger learned how the FT operated in the first few weeks of the project. This put us in a position later in the project to recommended some changes to the process in the internal design and development team.

Coach

Initially Red Badger found multiple product teams using processes which were out of view resulting in untrackable productivity. This made predicting delivery times and making sound investment decisions difficult. Soon after our arrival we were helping the FT to build a legacy of implementing methodologies out in the open, with work on kanban boards representing their own processes. We worked with each team one at a time and through an osmosis like process each team adopted a more open and collaborative way of working together with UX and Design. Now the FT have core metrics measured against each of the backlogs and using Little’s Law we can predict completion time, throughput, lead time and cycle time.

Support

Through a formal education program we taught fundamental User Experience methodologies; Lean UX and Kanban, to a cross section of representatives across the business to support and reinforce the change we have brought to the Financial Times at an enterprise level. Ongoing contact beyond our engagement is a given, to offer any level of support required during the maturation of the businesses UCD approach to product development.

Working with Red Badger has allowed the FT to see the future of our .com publishing model in a new light. Helping the FT to get the best out of our own great people, with a fresh approach to delivery and the way in which we collaborate across all disciplines has been central in building lasting change.

Christina Scott, Chief Product and Information Officer at FT

Summary

Creating lasting change was central to our work with the Financial Times. Arriving at an approach through close collaboration with the senior management team in a controlled and carefully considered way ensures that the gradual cultural shift in working practices and approach to Lean UX and Agile Design is not short lived. On the contrary, through careful coaching and support we have created an environment where teams now make iterative changes to how UX and Design is considered and integrated with other teams, including technology and customer research across the business.

The Financial Times is at the cutting edge of product development which puts a Lean UCD (User Centred Design) process at the heart of everything it does. Red Badger have been pivotal in implementing these processes, integrating Lean UX and Agile Design into all areas of product delivery across the organisation.

The tech

The team

Joe Dollar-Smirnov
Joe Dollar-Smirnov

CXO

Clementine Brown
Clementine Brown

Visual Designer

Sasha Ward
Sasha Ward

User Experience Designer

Selina Bans
Selina Bans

Project Manager

Tania Pasia
Tania Pasia

User Experience Designer

Austin Keeble
Austin Keeble

User Experience Designer

Viktor Charypar
Viktor Charypar

Tech Lead