An agile stand up in progress

Keeping up with the Financial Times

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
Christina ScottChief Product & Information Officer, Financial Times

Results

  • Integration of Lean UX and Design into all areas of product delivery
  • New homepage designed and built in just 7 weeks
  • Reader engagement increased by 30%

Let's make things better.Adapting to a changing online news world

The Financial Times 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 underway, and now they needed a partner who could help envisage it and bring it to life.

There were two overarching challenges to solve for the Financial Times:

  1. Delivery — To deliver the next generation ft.com homepage demonstrating the successful integration of UX and design across all other streams
  2. Strategy — Creative team strategy across the entire online product portfolio

And, 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

Do the right thing. Do the thing right.Collaboration both online and offline

Learn

We approached the work through collaborative design, with representatives from across the business, we built a complete understanding of the publication’s needs.

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.

Project in mind?

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. We 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. We learned how the Financial Times 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 we found multiple product teams were using processes that were out of view and this resulted in untraceable productivity. This made predicting delivery times and making sound investment decisions difficult. Soon after our arrival we were helping the Financial Times 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 Financial Times 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.

On going 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.

The first iteration of the new homepage design and built in seven weeks
Screenshot of Financial Times website

Creating lasting change.A new design increasing reader engagement by 30%

Our work with the Financial Times was made to last. Through close collaboration with the FT senior management in a controlled and 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 process at the heart of everything it does. We have been pivotal in implementing these processes, integrating Lean UX and Agile Design into all areas of product delivery across the organisation.

It remains one of the fastest news sites in the world, loading in 1.5 seconds on desktop and 2.1 on mobile, reader engagement has increased by 30%, with visitors reading more and returning more frequently. It has also won Website of the Year at the Press Awards and Best Use of Technology at Digiday Publishing Awards.

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