Design Strategy

Leading cross-platform elections design at NBC News

Navigating omni-channel user journeys, utilizing seasons of learnings, and delivering for high-stakes deadlines, the team created record breaking experiences that resonated with our audiences – who kept coming back for more.

The Mission

Solve editorial needs, provide clarity for our audience, and create connected experiences across platforms and touchpoints.

ClientNBC News DigitalServicesDesign Lead, UI/UX DesignYear2019-Present

For the product design team working on elections, the entire user experience is our responsibility.

Not only is the team looking at user journeys, design systems, information architecture, page hierarchy, differentiating features, recirc, cover layouts, and all maps and data vizualizations for elections, they are working to make sure the capabilities and patterns connect across mobile apps, web, and the interactive board used on broadcast (aka the Big Board). This shared responsibility means audiences can have a truly cohesive multi-screen experience. And it also means we need to have a unified strategy and tactical plan with our partners—from primaries through the general.

We unite on core principles shared across the agile team, identify key audience needs at all phases of the election season, allocate resources and plan a roadmap.

The best plans focus on outcomes over output. We build in opportunities for divergent thinking, process changes, and the ability to learn and pivot.

At the start of primary season, early versions of pages and features begin to launch. While user tests are run in advance of feature launches, speed to market is prioritized so the team can collect live user sentiment and make iterations throughout the season that best support audience needs and desires.

For the 2020 election, we also broke down historical silos, working closely with the Decision Desk, broadcast graphics, specials, art direction, SEO teams and more. This allowed us to collectively craft stronger solutions. Broadcast agreed to unified color palettes across platforms after we jointly tested user comprehension, product design took into account key art plans when designing new story curations, and information design was assessed when taking into account the impact on SEO and our large audience discovering us through search.

By building flex time into our roadmap, we were able to make bets on new ideas, explore, validate, and launch. This required a close eye on ROI and prioritization as we learned where we should be spending our time, what features were set, and what ideas to save for future seasons.

For design systems, we wanted relatives not twins.

Our systems are scalable, our patterns are sharable, and our final compositions have a common thread while optimized for each platform’s unique needs. When 3D works for a broadcast graphic, we may need to go flat for an interactive tool like the Big Board, web, and apps. We created robust systems in figma and in storybook for colors, typography, patterns, module layouts, backend tools, and data graphics accounting for all possible election outcomes.

Design systems covered mobile apps, web, the Big Board, and backend tooling, while finding commonality with broadcast designs.

Through empathetic designing and continuous discovery, we create industry leading experiences.

In 2020, we launched iOS widgets that could be personalized by state and always at your fingertips, we saw the impact covid and jobless claims could have on the election and showed local data, we saw a shift in voting by mail and added transparency to the process.

All of this prioritizes staying in tune with our audience as we push for new solutions. If there are new technical capabilities, how can we use them to help our news consumers? If there is a job to be done in their daily life, how can we play a part? If there is a recurring concern, how can we find a solution beyond expectations? And if we see major opportunities in the market we could fill, how do we validate with our users? With a discovery mindset and process with our peers, we innovate.

To create powerful storytelling experiences, we work closely with editorial teams and craft structures that support their ability to curate stories with a sense of importance and hierarchy. Solutions need to be able to shift and grow as the story changes. And we need to make sure the tools are intuitive and quick for them to make updates online or tell stories on air. This can mean new flexible homepage packages or new navigation patterns for Kornacki.

We also work closely with the Decision Desk and editorial teams to ensure our data displays are accurate and compelling.

Come election night, all the pieces come together.

We track usage, sentiment, and start thinking about ways to evolve our principles, improve our processes, and elevate our experiences for next cycle. With the 2020 election, we built a scalable foundation. This year, I’ve been guiding the team to push past expected. And there will be much to share after the ’22 Midterms 😉.