Hometown Live Sinclair Digital

Project brief and my role.

When I started at Sinclair Broadcast Group, they had just over 200 local news properties across the United States, each having their own individual news and weather apps managed through many different content management systems. For our company, it was a disjointed creation and consumption experience that didn't work for anyone's benefit--our users or our business. Hometown Live was conceived as is a multiplatform news app that aggregated news stories for users based simply on their location, pulling from all our stations. Our goal was to save millions of dollars by providing a single publishing platform for our creators and a single destination for our users.

Working with senior designer, Jonathan Kersten, and art director, Jim Sharon, I was a UX and visual designer for Hometown Live. Collaborating designers, David Buitrago, Kevin Gangi, Megan Harris, and Mykhaylo Sinenko, on branding and consulting with our partners at Ratio Design on technical challenges, we finished the designs by the time I left Sinclair Broadcast Group in September of 2015. Downloadable at a later date at HometownLive.com.

Framing our problem and goal.

At it's core, the question we needed to answer was "how can we get more eyes on our content?" And the problem was fairly low hanging fruit: our audience was moving from traditional television to videos-on-demand and they were increasing mobile focused. Our solution was to create a multiplatform app that aggregated news from local Sinclair stations, so they don't have to go to two or more Sinclair news sites that would otherwise complete and cannibalize one another's audience.

First time onboarding flow for Hometown Live on iOS.
Header featured a menu to quickly switch between cities.
Key app screens including home, a news section, a story, feed selection, and settings.

Easy to share, no app required.

Stories shared to Facebook or Twitter link to browser versions, viewable by anyone. Social media was the leading source of page views for some Sinclair properties, making this an important feature for increasing viewership.

Stories in browser for desktop and mobile.
Xbox 360 app screens.

Core insights: Our readers are mobile and are hungry for news.

Our research showed that television viewers, especially younger ones, were moving toward video on demand services for their news and entertainment. These same people were consuming that content on mobile phones and sharing these stories and videos on their social networks where some of our sites get the majority of their visitors.

We also made the reasonable assumption that our audience reads our news because it's what's happening outside their door. And that was not untrue. But they also read news from stations very far away.

Model 1: Settings didn't need such prominence as to put it in the bottom tab. Also too many steps to go to a story in a category, something that will be tiresome overtime.
Model 2: Hamburger menus hide content under a menu.
Model 3: The verticality of the content requires a lot of scrolling.
Model 4: Started getting the idea for stacked carousels that reduce verticality while still surfacing content. Hamburger menu was introduced again.
Model 5: The model we went with. Stacked carousels with bottom tabs.

Content is king, so show it.

We ultimately landed on a model that served to surface as much content as possible without overwhelming the user.

Carousels surface top 5 stories.
Wireframes using final model.
Wireframes for Xbox app.

The brand challenge: Juxtapose the vision of hometown with our largely bleak content.

Crime made up the majority of the stories on our stations. The challenge was to deliver a brand that both represented the wholesomeness of the hometown and bleakness of our content.

Our moodboard represented locality, city life, history, and our busy lives.

Our brand built itself on the image of out of focus city lights. It was abstract which worked well for our nationwide presence. It represented city life and was dark, which fit our demographic and bleak content.

Color and type sheet.

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