Announcing the New WRAL.com: A Responsive News Experience
Ben Eckerson, Former Senior Digital Strategist
As a long-time North Carolina resident, I know there is no news source that is trusted more in the Raleigh-Durham area than WRAL-TV and WRAL.com. It is the primary local news outlet for a large and diverse demographic, including the majority of our Durham office. When WRAL approached us with the opportunity to redesign WRAL.com, we saw a chance to help improve a site experience that many of us use daily for our local news and weather updates.
A Trusted Source for High Quality Content
For decades, most local news organizations have failed to make good on the web’s promise for expanding the reach of local news coverage, frequently just recycling television content on outdated web pages. Not so with WRAL. We knew that WRAL.com was already providing the most trusted and current local news content, including weather, politics, and sports––the site gets over 175 million visits per year. As far as media markets go, very few local media outlets can boast such wide adoption and demand.
New Challenges in Responsive Design
While Senior User Experience Designers Jason Toth and Todd Moy had worked to address and solve many complex challenges for a variety of clients, they had never worked with a client to create a site experience that so heavily relied on advertising to generate revenue. In this case there were new and specific design considerations to address, and a need to meet both advertisers’ interests as well as the users’.
WRAL had a specific goal of creating a responsive news site, but there were clear challenges in migrating its varied content into a design that would realize that goal. Senior Designer Mark Steinruck worked closely with Jason and Todd to begin the design for the site in a modular, flexible, dynamic, and systematic fashion––providing WRAL.com with the necessary foundational system design to last well into the future.
True Team Collaboration
With legacy content and advertising placement considerations, the challenges on this project were not solely those of the UX and Design Team, but shared with our Front-End Development team. Front-End Developers Nate Hunzaker and Chris Manning worked closely with the team as a whole to provide technical solutions for complicated problems. They took design theory and made it a reality by building a responsive framework for displaying ads, promotions, and news stories.
This is just a glimpse into what was one of the proudest projects of my career. Working with both a driven and discerning client, and a dedicated and innovative Viget team, I felt fortunate to play a small part in the development of the next iteration of a site I use every day.