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What does the oldest type of news announcement like, rethought for TV and Digital?

What does the oldest type of news announcement like, rethought for TV and Digital?

  • Strategy
  • Visual Design
  • Creative Direction
  • Information Architecture
  • Interaction Design
  • Quality Assurance
  • Web Development

The obituary predates the newspaper. It is a journalism student’s first assignment. But as the newspaper business is disrupted, there is no place for these important announcements.

The challenge was to help a cable network reimagine the obituary, and consider the future of classifieds as a whole across TV and digital media. Together we would strategize, design and develop an entirely new product line – and provide the client with an impactful and graceful enough product to support partnerships with funeral homes, cable companies, TV networks and digital partners.

Our Approach

We designed and built a full product with consumer viewpoints on multiple platforms and a rich content management system (CMS) for funeral directors to easily upload media and publish obits. Everything was designed and built from scratch.

This service is comprised by at least 5 “products” that constitute the full experience:

  • Responsive front-end for Web and mobile for viewing the Obitsondemand.com site
  • VOD video assets made from photos uploaded by funeral directors. VOD video pushed nightly to cable partners around the country.
  • Custom Linear video feed pushed to local TV affiliates around the country. The videos run during the evening news.
  • CMS for funeral directors to upload photos, write obits and promote their services. Includes payment tools, video encoding and transcoding, user roles and privileges, and so much more.
  • Administrative tools for the client team to manage publishers and their partners

Information Architecture

We worked quickly to lock in on conceptual directions for the experience that were constantly revisited and tuned throughout the process based on what the iND team learned from their prospective partners.

Agile would be a bit of a misnomer, but the blueprints for the product evolved throughout the project. The feedback and insight from the market provided great insights. This happens more rarely than it should in product development.

Visual Design

The visual design process was very rewarding on this project. Some of our original concepts, including purple as a primary color, carried through into the finished product. It’s neat to look back and see the polish and process that carried through from concept to final product.

The aesthetic goal of the experience were ones we find in much of our work that’s meant to actually be used day to day. We’ve been pleasantly surprised to see clients expectations change and their needs mature over the past few years. People used to ask for “cool” designs for the sake of cool, but stakeholders now seem to better understand the needs of their users and the desire for simplicity and cleanliness. Thank you Apple, Uber, et al.

The key pillars of the visual design centered around simplicity, trust, peace.

  • Purple as the primary color has attributes that were great match – peaceful, loyal and relatable

  • We explored many styles of accent and flourish, from some classicist styles that evoked early 1900s design to the more subtle modern approach that was ultimately used

  • Type had to be legible on digital as well as TVs of all sizes. Cleanliness and legibility were primary goals.

Development

In bringing a new product (or products) to market like Obitsondemand, the front-end has to be built, as does all of the plumbing. We helped select and integrate third party technologies for:

HOSTING / PAYMENTS / VIDEO TRANSCODING / VIDEO PLAYER / ANALYTICS

We built a variety of backend services from scratch including the core CMS to power the entire experience, the front-end experience for mobile and desktop, and the APIs that connected the two to each other. There was no off-the-shelf CMS that would work for a product like this. And WordPress or Drupal are more article oriented publishing systems. This had to be custom.

Unique to this project was the video element. We’ve done many, many, video projects in the past, but none that touched digital, VOD and linear. This involved video encoding and transcoding, as well as integrating with VOD trafficking systems at various cable systems.

video slideshow

Video Slideshow

One of the most unique pieces we built was a video authoring tool that takes photos and music, stitches them together into a slideshow with dissolves and adds a title card and the copy for the obit, all pulled out of the CMS. We’re very proud of this functionality and the service as a whole. VCs have put 100s of millions of dollars into startups doing slideshow videos. But we see it as more of a feature rather than a company.

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