Chris Clarke – Building a winning agile football team – Live blog 2015

A UX architect at the Guardian newspaper. Chris is currently involved in creating and launching the new responsive website. With a long standing background in the web, as well as illustration and music, his focus is ultimately simple: Something that’s accessible for everyone. You can catch up with Chris on Twitter.


Over the last year the Guardian website has under gone a complete redesign, using cutting edge web technologies to provide an excellent cross device experience. The site was hard to create but created at a fast pace. The larger team of 150 was broken down into many smaller teams that managed each individual ‘sub-site’.

He feels they did not produce allot, but surely this is a sign of good design? A tool was created to allow the editorial team to decide when on page content and information would live. Features were realised every 3 or so days, there were mistake but these were identified quickly. There were no meetings!

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Within the first week of the task they decided on a minimum of a weekly release, normally on Fridays. After all Saturday is the big footy day. The beta site was trialled with mobile and was the most viewed section on the site for these devices. Old content cas copied onto the new site to allow development.

IMG_20150904_103536Chris says there are three components to the success of the site, and led to a very focused team.

  • Six p’s of planning
  • Iteration of design
  • Teamwork

Everyone wants to talk about football. It brings allot of opinions to the table which could have been troublesome in the workplace when the job revolves around football. A shared understanding of what was important was key. For this preparation was needed.

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On day one of the project user journeys, starting templates and ideas were shared.
On day two a planning and design sprint was started. A researcher was brought in for a outside view of what is is exactly users wanted from their football new source.

The team found:

  • Football needs personality and depth.
  • Football is being consistent to be fast.
  • Football is mobile. Go where the users are.

65% of views are now on a mobile device. Enhancing the editorial content, without getting in the way is a difficult task.

Practice makes perfect. This is the ethos that drove the team forward through the design process.

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The team found resistance with the fast release cycle. It was a huge mindset shift for people in the organisation but outside of the sites wider development team. The team used a method similar to Brad Frosts molecular design, where a page is built from small and reusable components.

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Individual atoms were built that linked to the PFA’s data which in turn are bundled together to create molecules / elements.

IMG_20150904_105516These elements were continuously iterated. These iteration were deployed and then replaced over and over. After settling on the four key pieces of player data, player cards were built. The site responds to the users chosen team, placing league tables near to mentions of that football team.

IMG_20150904_105856Externally an awesome team is one that produces results. Internally its owning ones work and being comfortable with team members. This means no superstars. The team was collocated, with the PM sat upside down. This negated the need for meetings.

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Stakeholders are kept in the loop by grabbing them on the way past. Stakeholder were included in a weekly 20 minute meeting to demonstrate the changed. By keeping them interested and involved there was little resistant to changes. Open and honest communication wins. In such a small team there was no excuse of ‘I can’t do that, it’s not my job’. If a team member didn’t know something it was time to learn with the help of the team. Teamwork worked because.

  • No official meetings
  • Shared language and understanding
  • No bullshit of ego

The main measurement was time on page. It dropped, but research found that it was due to all the required information being so accessible and in front of the user.

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