Jonathan Tweed

building one thing, at the bbc knowledge & learning build studio

Yes, we did it! Our pitch from the BBC Knowledge & Learning Creative Studio got through! We got to go back to Salford for two days last week to develop the idea further, build a prototype and pitch to take it to the next stage: a full pilot.

what was that one thing again?

One Thing is really simple: a mobile app that sends you one thing to learn about every day. It combines the best of BBC content to send you a daily package of knowledge from across the BBC, straight to your mobile. The package you receive is based on what’s topical and what you’ve liked before.

the dream team

We were excited to be asked to bring Kai‘s idea to life, but first we needed a team. With two people from the BBC and four from MetaBroadcast it was a real co-production.

Here’s who was there and what they did:

  • Josephine Lie: A Design Trainee with BBC UX&D, Jo brought her visual design and illustration skills, designing the branding and user experience of the app
  • Luke Wesley-Holley: Our very own Luke wowed us constantly with his famed front end fabulousness, building a prototype app in HTML5
  • Oli Hall: Oli worked with Chris on the recommendations and targeting, with two days of back end brilliance
  • Jonathan Tweed: I put together the sample editorial packages and did my best to help Luke and the others with whatever was needed
  • Chris Jackson: Chris was our recommendations wizard, coming up with the algorithms for working out what was topical and what we should recommend to who
  • Kai En Ong: A Creative Director at BBC UX&D, Kai says she did flip charts, but we know it was really the idea, interaction design, user testing and pitch

what we built

With such a rounded, multi-skilled team, we achieved an enormous amount in just two days. We were we able to develop the idea, work on the interaction and visual design and do some user testing. We also created some example content so that we could demo exactly what we thought the app would look like and what kind of content it would contain.

And then we built two things. Firstly an app-like site in HTML5, which shows the example content and provides a journey around it, as a user would experience over three days. Secondly, we built a prototype editorial admin system and recommendations backend that works out what’s currently topical and what groups of users to target with each topic.

Jo has this to say about the user experience (yes, a guest co-author!):

The One Thing visual design was shaped by the challenge of introducing visuals that maintained a BBC Knowledge & Learning feel, yet could be distinct enough to stand alone as a separate app – all in a few hours. Adapting existing K&L visuals was a fast way of achieving this result; combining existing K&L serif and san-serif fonts in center alignment was a effective way of quickly making One Thing look like an app, instead of a website. The One Thing logo brand was a strategically conceived using a circle motif so that it could easily be repeated in different visual contexts, and adapted for related logos and icons. One example is in the opening page, with the logo complimenting the highly visual changing theme image – a feature that echoes the one-thing-a-day routine of the app.

The interaction design of the app had simplicity in mind with users encouraged to scroll down the main page using bite-size content division, and the option of swiping to the sides for the menu page and onward journeys.

the new pitch

This time we had eight minutes to pitch and we hit the time exactly. We hope our pitch managed to demonstrate the breadth, quality and amount of work we’d managed to pack into the two days:

We’re all very pleased with what we’ve managed to achieve. The BBC’s Connected Studio initiative aims to encourage collaboration between the BBC and external companies on innovative new ideas. We certainly think One Thing achieves that and we hope you like it too.

We won’t know for another few weeks if we’ve made it through this round of judging, to a full pilot. Keep your fingers crossed for us and in the meantime you can find the prototype app and example content here:

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