CNN | Lead Mobile Designer

A New Device. A New Frontier.

On January 9th, 2007 Steve Jobs announced the iPhone.  Opinions on its future were panned by critics and executives clung to their BlackBerry's. Later that year in November, I would begin designing what would later become the first version of the CNN iPhone Application as a self-assigned personal project and an experiment. As a life long lover of technology and a believer that it was the way of the future, I set out to uncover what a CNN App experience might be like even before the App Store launched the following year 2008.

My Role

Lead UI Designer,  UX Support — Corporate Environment

The Challenge

Building a news application for a new platform that had underdeveloped best practices, an incredible amount of promise all while managing a rapidly changing set of user and executive expectations.

The Approach

After my initial UI designs were further along and had gained executive interest, I teamed up with a project manager and senior UX designer to pin down exactly which areas were the most crucial parts for the company, ad clients and consumers.  From there, we developed hypotheses on what the product should do and be for stakeholders and consumers all while educating ourselves on our tech to understand our own framework and what was possible.

The steps looked something like the following:

  1. Learn about the technology behind the business, stakeholder needs, and customer expectations in order to deliver a product that could satisfy all parties.
  2. Make prototypes based on stakeholder needs and hypotheses for testing that resulted in validation and invalidation of assumptions.
  3. Utilize our newfound understandings and "waterfall" requests in the future designs of the product.
 
Phil Schiller during iPhone 5 announcement. Presenting the first significant UI update to the CNN iPhone application in September 2012.

Phil Schiller during iPhone 5 announcement. Presenting the first significant UI update to the CNN iPhone application in September 2012.

Sketches from white board session at Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA for CNN for iPhone 2.x

Sketches from white board session at Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA for CNN for iPhone 2.x

 

CNN for iOS 1.x

Screen capture from CNN Mobile promotional page, 2008

Screen capture from CNN Mobile promotional page, 2008

CNN for iOS 2.x


Results

With the skeleton and the prototypes tested, I refocused on User Interface deliverables and began working with in-house and outsourced development teams to create the app. I wanted to keep the interface simple and minimal, yet playful and attractive, while balancing the difficult tasks of managing requests from various departments within the organization. After the initial iPhone app, I would go on to work on its iPad counter part in 2010 and lead design for all CNN Mobile products off and on for 6 years, growing ad sales and reaching over 70 Million downloads between iOS and Android.

Awards

2009 Macworld Best News App

2010 SND Annual Award for World’s Best Mobile Tablet App