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High engagement web app for the BBC

BBC – Timeliner

“ The BBC’s plans to use its archive more powerfully in digital storytelling have reached a significant milestone with the launch of the Timeliner ”

Peter Rippon, Editor of the BBC’s Online Archive.

“ A treasure trove of political footage ”

 London Evening Standard

The Challenge

Create an exciting and engaging way for online audiences to discover and enjoy the BBC’s extensive news archive.

The pilot needed to be built quickly to a fixed deadline (an upcoming General Election) and on a tight budget. To get the commission in the first place, however, we had to win two rounds of competitive pitching culminating in building a winning prototype in under three days.

It was essential that Timeliner visually fits the BBC’s existing family of online news products.

We set ourselves the goal of creating a truly immersive experience by putting the audience in control of their journey through the material as they discovered content for themselves that matched their interests.

Our Solution

We quickly integrated existing BBC web services for video streaming and image rendering. That allowed us to focus our energies where it mattered most, creating a compelling user experience.

So that visitors could instinctively understand how to use Timeliner, our designers made sure that its design fitted in well with the BBC’s other online properties.

We kept the user interface simple. Using  AngularJS (connecting to a Node.js bakend)  the large volume of archive footage was easily accessible and the front-end responsive for all tablets and mobiles.

We incorporated user feedback on a regular basis, designing the site to keep users interested and to encourage them to continue browsing through related timelines. Our aim was to build a sense of intrigue and excitement throughout to encourage the user to click “play.”

Expected demand was unpredictable, so scalability was a key requirement. To meet this requirement cost-effectively, we implemented a “publishing” model based on a cloud infrastructure, where pages are generated once, then served statically through Amazon’s content distribution network.

The Result

Timeliner had three times the engagement rate of the main BBC news site during the General Election Campaign.

The BBC liked Timeliner so much that they linked to it directly from their existing news sites.  During the pilot, Timeliner received 118,000 visits and 688,000 page views, and handled this level of demand flawlessly.

It was shortlisted for an Association for International Broadcasting award.

Timeliner received great positive comments on social media sites, especially Twitter–where many users commented on Timeliner’s “absolutely brilliant” and “exciting” use of the BBC’s news archive.

The BBC liked Timeliner so much that they linked to it directly from their existing news sites.

In short, we delivered a platform to access the BBC’s archival news footage with a great user experience–without any drama.

Related Case Studies

High engagement web app for the BBC

AngularJS, Node.JS

The project
Building a series of online guides showcasing the BBC’s extensive media library from a winning prototype into a full app in a short timeframe

The results
Engagement (pages per visit) triple that of BBC News and shortlisted for international broadcasting award