Moving the News
Guardian News and Media (GNM) is at the forefront of the digital
revolution. Its award winning network gua...
Moving the News
The Challenge                                                               The Travel site pilot project ...
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Online and Publishing casestudies

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Guardian News and Media (GNM) is at the forefront of the digital
revolution. Its award winning network guardian.co.uk is the most
popular news website in the UK. The company recognized that
growing demands from users, advertisers and editorial staff were
beginning to strain the capability of is technology.
Partnering with ThoughtWorks, The Guardian developed a new
platform, taking advantage of innovative technology and adopting
new ways of working as part of the process.

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Online and Publishing casestudies

  1. 1. Moving the News Guardian News and Media (GNM) is at the forefront of the digital revolution. Its award winning network guardian.co.uk is the most popular news website in the UK. The company recognized that growing demands from users, advertisers and editorial staff were beginning to strain the capability of is technology. The Bene ts Partnering with ThoughtWorks, The Guardian developed a new Increased revenue The new platform features platform, taking advantage of innovative technology and adopting flexible, contextual advertising and other enhancements which new ways of working as part of the process. are significantly increasing page yields and sales The Client Increased page views Content tagging and intuitive Published by Guardian News and Media, guardian.co.uk is the UK’s most popular news website, with user navigation are already increasing international reach it is the first UK newspaper site to exceed 20 million unique users*. contributing to a remarkable Launched in 1999, guardian.co.uk has been voted the best newspaper on the web at the Webby increase in the average number of pages viewed per visit, or Awards for three successive years. Owned by the Scott Trust, GNM is financially and editorially ‘stickiness’ independent, and devoted to sustainability through its editorial and business practices. Flexibility The Situation The platform and project were Early adoption of the internet as a news medium led The Guardian to overwhelming leadership in its able to accommodate additional online market. But that success has a flip side. The Guardian’s business was changing fundamentally; scope outside of planned activities, delivering new features rapid changes in digital media were having a profound effect on the way consumers read and share in response to readers’ needs news and information. Executives saw opportunities to significantly increase advertising revenue and and competitor activity, within a visitor retention but innovation was limited by the lack of flexibility of the existing infrastructure. The short timeframe platform for managing and presenting online content needed to change. Improved productivity The editorial staff benefit from new user features such as “ThoughtWorks brought development expertise to the multimedia support and intuitive navigation project and helped to embed the latest Agile methodologies into the company. This project is a clear Future ready The platform is flexible and success, delivering a variety of technical ambitions.” scalable, built to support and grow the site with new features, Mike Bracken, Technology Director of Guardian News and Media as audience growth continues at 20-30% per annum www.thoughtworks.com *20.499,858 - ABCe June 08
  2. 2. Moving the News The Challenge The Travel site pilot project went live 8 months into the programme The Guardian specified a programme to build a new platform for its and has since experienced a tenfold increase in the average number digital media products. This would need to be ultimately flexible, of pages viewed per visitor. The lessons from this phase fed into scalable and robust but at the same time easy to change and continuous improvement; each subsequent release has been maintain. It needed to support new features required by advertisers, completed on time and with minimal disruption. February 2008 saw readers and editors with minimal downtime of the site. the flawless launch of the News, Politics and Observer sites and integrated audio content – the largest milestone in the collaboration The main technical challenge was migration of content, ensuring – since then the team has progressed to sites requiring complex that while both old and new sites used the core database there third party integration, such as Sports, Football, Culture and would be no breakages. The original system fostered considerable Comment is Free, which are also now live. content overlap and repetition, which had to be eliminated. In order to enable dynamic page building, advertising and higher relevancy across the site, tagging was also a key part of the migration plan. “We adopted an evolutionary approach to guardian.co.uk; The Guardian’s people worked as part of a collaborative team with ThoughtWorks to gain from their expertise. This arrangement occasionally we chose to expand our enhanced their existing experience of Agile development techniques ambition, for example we made the and software skills to allow them to support the platform and deliver decision to include video half way future initiatives. through the project. ThoughtWorks Working Towards a Solution responded positively and exibly – The Guardian in-house team brought their extensive domain qualities which are characteristic of expertise and knowledge of the current system to bear, which was particularly important in kicking off. The new joint team their approach.” rapidly worked through high-level requirements, agreeing on the Mike Bracken, Technology Director of Guardian News and Media implementation road map and technical toolset – a lightweight Java / Open Source architecture. The Future The primary objective was to launch the rebuilt UK and World ThoughtWorks and The Guardian staff used the very latest Agile News sites. The team devised a route to deliver value at regular management and software delivery techniques to bring the project points through the life of the project, by staging releases of other to fruition, creating a tailored Agile methodology unique to the sites in advance of the main News launch. The team was always Guardian’s vibrant culture. working on requirements that were essential to the primary News The programme has enabled GNM to further develop its reputation goal, but through careful planning, other sites’ functionality could be for innovation, for example layering on community-building features completed, and so could be made public. and monetizing its news content. The new platform provides GNM The team established a consistent practice of delivering a release with the tools and ability to sustain their market-leading position, to the live site every two weeks; laying the foundations for new and the flexibility to drive forward its plans for yet more innovation launches while supporting the existing site’s capabilities and and increased reader interaction. Following the remarkable success shortening the time to market for new functionality. of the programme’s approach the collaborative cultural practices developed by ThoughtWorks and The Guardian are an important legacy of the project. www.thoughtworks.com

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