When The Verge co-founder Joshua Topolsky joined Bloomberg in July 2014 to help expand the breadth and reach of its media properties, he immediately saw an “opportunity to build a 21st-century media company to scale” under Bloomberg’s new direction guided by Bloomberg Media CEO Justin B. Smith.
Just four months later, the first part of the plan was realized. In October, Bloomberg’s entirely new generation of digital-first, multi-platform media properties was born: Bloomberg Politics
Here’s the story of how we worked with the Bloomberg Digital team to build an entirely new brand, product, and multi-platform reporting model in just six weeks:
A Blank Slate
Bloomberg Politics was to be a completely original take on political coverage. From the content strategy, to the cadence, to the visual presentation of long-form, short-form, and video content—everything would be different.
The goal was to build a politics site for the user of the future.
The company hired heavyweight political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann to set the tone for the new media property, which would also serve as the launching pad for what would be the new television show, With All Due Respect.
Establishing the content, editorial team, and the site all happened in tandem. Decisions in one area informed decisions in another, and vice versa.
Acting as one unit, our teams worked side-by-side for six weeks to build the entire site from scratch.
The Design Challenges and Opportunities
There were three unique challenges in establishing the visual language of Bloomberg Politics:
(1) As the site would be the first in a series of vertical-specific launches spanning business to luxury news, the team needed to ensure that the systematic elements of the visual language would be able to traverse any site in the ecosystem.
(2) The design had to build upon and enhance the visual system established by Bloomberg Businessweek, one of the company’s flagship properties.
(3) Lastly, as the politics unit was a new entity in the company, the launch day site experience would need to scale over time as the editorial team built out its library of content and increased the frequency and volume of content they produced.
Let the Content Determine the Layout
The fresh visual presentation and consumption experience was built on a design system that gave the editorial team enormous flexibility to publish and package any type of content.
Connecting the Dots
One unique aspect of political coverage is the prevalence of longer-term story arcs and threaded stories. We took great care to ensure flexibility on both the homepage and article pages to allow reporters to package up content in ways that would be useful to readers. On the article page, for instance, we accounted for all types of content formats—from long-form pieces, to feature stories, to in-depth reporting, to quick news bites.
As a modern publisher with a history in television, Bloomberg placed a heavy emphasis on video and cross-media storytelling. We worked together to map the daily programming cycle of With All Due Respect into the content experience, with summaries and catch-ups in the morning, and pre-show builds in the afternoon. Additionally, users would be able to watch the show live on the site every day at 5pm. The flexible and modular system we created empowered the editorial team to map out their storytelling and daily news coverage around the show’s linear programming cycle.
Innovative Ad Integration
Our page designs established an entirely new monetization strategy built around how advertiser content was integrated into the editorial.
We decided to leverage elements of the design system to create completely integrated ad experiences for Bloomberg’s high-profile advertisers like BP and Goldman Sachs. Relying heavily on motion and animation-based interactions, we collaborated with Bloomberg on a new toolkit of custom and unobtrusive ad integrations that they could expand on over time.
The morning after launch, the new Bloomberg Politics awoke to acclaim from pundits, readers and competitors.
Praised for its “bold” and “excellent” site design that was “beautifully Bloomberg,” and recognized for its addicting and “seamless” reading experience, the new site immediately drew attention in media, business and political circles.