VICE News Tonight was launching in September 2016—a few months away. The nightly program was going to be incredibly innovative. Could Postlight build and support a digital platform that would be just as innovative? We worked hand-in-hand with the VICE team to completely rebuild the VICE News website. VICE News wanted to build a system of content modules that could be completely customized and art directed, all in a mobile-first, fully responsive news app.
“Tonight,” launching tomorrow
The team behind the VICE News brand wanted to focus heavily on design, featuring quick clips and tons of video content framed by motion graphics in an art-directed environment. It need to look like—and work like—the TV show, with a powerful, dynamic aesthetic defined as much by motion as by type and illustration.
Defining the platform
We chose WordPress for the quality of its editorial tools, its known scalability, and the speed of development. We built a React front end that treats WordPress as an API. Through many cycles of rapid development and prototyping we arrived at a system that works every day—and scales effortlessly when big news breaks and millions of people visit the site.
Building a culture
We defined a wide variety of content modules that could be completely customized and art directed by VICE, all in a mobile-first, fully responsive news app. We worked with VICE’s in-house design team to align the user experience with the aesthetics of the nightly show’s video program. In order to allow for a front page with exciting content modules and cover units, we fully customized a WordPress instance that enables an art director to design everything from animations and motion graphics to individual headline placement. Almost every visual element in the new VICE News can be individually designed and tweaked.
Most importantly, we made it all optional. Editors can break a huge story without waiting for art directors. Art directors and editors can work together to package news. The traditional production bottlenecks around edit and design don’t make sense for the Internet, so we got rid of them.
The result is a truly modern news content stream—a mix of video, text, illustration, and dynamic interactive graphics, all playing smoothly whether on WiFi desktop or on a mobile with a slow connection.