For Local World Pubishing
Local World, the publisher of over 100 local newspaper titles across the UK, asked us to help them create a digital home for local stories with the potential to reach a broader audience. This new site would bring together, own and celebrate the ‘unmakeupable’ stories unique to British local news and give them the mass audience they deserve.quirker.co.uk
Local newspapers are a great source of viral stories. The problem is, those stories are often quickly picked up by national and even international news outlets, who benefit from their shareability and universal appeal.
This means that they’re soon taken away from the local news outlets themselves.
Original story appears in a local newspaper
Story is republished by a national title
Story is picked up by an international and written for a global audience
Local World, the publisher of over 100 local newspaper titles across the UK, asked us to help them create a digital home for local stories with the potential to reach a broader audience. This new site would bring together, own and celebrate the ‘unmakeupable’ stories unique to British local news and give them the mass audience they deserve.
Over three months we created the concept, designed and developed this new home for the irreverent, launching Quirker to the world
Our first step was to define the concept for the service. The Local World digital, editorial and commercial teams worked alongside us over a number of intensive days to explore the opportunity, audience and proposition for the service. Together, we developed a thorough strategy about how the service would showcase these stories to find them an audience and ultimately, be commercially successful for Local World.
The secret to a great editorial site is a clear, recognisable agenda. We took great pains to properly define the tone of the service.
First, we defined what makes a local story a ‘Quirker’ story, pinpointing the funny incredulity often characterised by the stories we’d identified. We decided that the site should be celebratory and matter of fact, proudly showcasing the weird and wonderful without ever appearing to make fun or look down.
We carried this through to visual design, giving the site a visual identity to befit its tone. Brand elements like the Quirker ‘Q’ and most popular and most shared labels have a brash and playful tone.
With a vivid concept and design agreed, the team were full of energy to get Quirker up and running quickly. Our approach from the beginning of the project was to always ensure that the the product is fast, reliable, easy to scale and has the necessary components for it to work using industry-recognised open source tools.
Content from third parties such as Twitter, Facebook and advertising elements load dynamically into the browser so they don’t slow down the reading experience for the user. We also set up the browser to lazy-load editorial images, giving the user immediate access to content
We built the application using open source components and chose the the Keystone.js web application framework (based on Node.js) to provide the presentation to end users along with some CMS editorial tools for content. The application uses reliable and proven components from the Amazon AWS platform to provide a hosting environment that can cope with the peak demands of the product.
But perhaps more importantly, Quirker has been hugely successful as the first of a series of new digital initiatives launched by Local World to get their teams thinking digitally. It has been embraced with huge enthusiasm, sparking new ideas and digital confidence across the board, from the senior teams who we worked with directly on the project and the wider organisation who are enjoying working on the platform.