4NewsWall was a project briefed in to 4Creative by the head of Channel 4 News and Current Affairs. The task was to try and come up with ways of engaging a younger, 16-34 demographic, who aren’t currently consuming this type of content. Jack Croft and Stacey Bird – the lead creative team on the project at 4Creative – came up with the idea of presenting news headlines in GIF’s and I joined the team shortly after the initial concept to help realise how this could work across online, mobile and social media.
After initially building a prototype of the site, we then ran a series of tests, creating multiple versions of the GIF’s with different styles, tones and rules, defining how the stories themselves could be represented. User journeys would play a key part, and we wanted to create a way of consuming news quickly, but also with a particular tone of voice aimed at this demographic. This was to avoid the articles within the site itself being regurgitations of writing styles directed to a wider news consuming audience. Once an article has been read within the site, users can then continue their journey to find out more information by clicking an external link (Channel 4 News being just one of the sources we push to), or by following a hashtag within Twitter. The GIF’s also needed to include as much of the stories as possible, avoiding the current click-bait trend.
Another important factor to explore was technically, how the processor heavy and not widely supported GIF format would work across mobile devices and social media. We decided on using looping MOV’s for Facebook as GIF’s are not currently supported and we liked the way these played automatically in user feeds. I enlisted the help of creative digital partner Resn, and working alongside them we designed, built and developed the responsive 4NewsWall website using Tumblrs backend and blogging services. The biggest technical feat of the site is the way we load, pause and play GIF’s dynamically whilst users navigate through the content.
The project was a brilliant collaboration between Channel 4 News, Channel 4 Online, 4Creative and Resn, meshing a range of talents and ideas to create something truly unique and never seen before.
4NewsWall has picked up notable press coverage including the likes of Creative Review, The Guardian and It’s Nice That, to name but a few. It has also picked up numerous awards including gold at FWA and the Campaign Big Awards and was the highest scoring entry from the UK across all categories at the Lovie Awards (Beating the likes of Google and other huge tech players). It later went on to feature in Campaigns’ top 10 innovations of the year.