Nexstar Digital is the No. 1 local broadcaster in the U.S. with more than 133 million highly engaged digital consumers across the United States. It is made up of a diverse set of 120 local news Web sites and three national brands: News Nation, The Hill, and Best Reviews.
With the investments that Nexstar Digital is making to expand our content offering, and with the traffic growth we are experiencing, we knew it was time to invest in our desktop and mobile Web properties.
Nexstar Digital set out to build a new design system that both users and advertisers would find more visually appealing. Critical to the success of this initiative, we aimed to keep disruption to our publishing workflow to a minimum, while ensuring the layout would allow our journalists to surface their award-winning news coverage in more discoverable and enjoyable ways.
Given the extent of the work ahead of us, and the speed at which we wished to deploy our design to meet our user and advertiser needs, the Nexstar Digital team selected Postlight as a design partner to help us realise this dream. Through the coordinated efforts of Nexstar Digital’s product, project management, marketing, broadcasting, audience, and technology teams, our basic requirements were captured — and the race was on.
Working around a pandemic
Redesigns are never easy, and we knew that meeting the needs of 120 local television Web sites across very different markets would be no small task. Initiating the project in early 2021 during the uptick of the pandemic, typical hands-on redesign collaboration needed to be rethought. The Nexstar Digital and Postlight teams adjusted our “typical” processes and worked through all-virtual discovery, concept, design, documentation, and execution phases.
To get into implementation quickly, we sequenced deliverables to ensure we were able to feed the internal Nexstar Digital engineering team with designs and specs in a cadence that mapped to our development sprints: global elements first, highest priority modules/pages next, etc. The collaboration was impressive across the board: stakeholders were engaged, communication with the local sites was effective, sales requirements remained front and center, and Postlight tactfully handled both design and process aspects, yielding beautiful results.
As designs and development were wrapping up, our roll-out strategy was simple: We first rolled out to a small pilot (four sites), checked our analytics over the course of the next month, and ensured revenue and user behaviour numbers were trending in the right direction.
Only then would we move on to our next wave of slightly larger sites (20). We did this through five additional waves until ultimately concluding with the deployment of our largest markets such as my local station, KTLA.com, on March 15, 2022.
Progress has been no less than stellar. Our local station managers are pleased with the designs and, based on what we’re seeing in terms of engagement metrics, so are our users. Now that we’re live, we’ve built a healthy backlog from feedback we have gathered from the stations, our users, and user experience testing.
We’re iterating on a beautiful new design system and are looking forward to serving more content to even more users throughout 2022 and beyond.