When the team behind Toronto Standard first approached digital design + development company Playground, three goals topped their must have list. First was to revive a 160-year-old Toronto publication and turn it into a locally branded global news source. Then, make it readable from a screen of any size in any place and finally to innovate. In short, reinvent the legacy practices of online journalism.
Today marks the launch of Toronto Standard, a business and cultural resource dynamic to its very core.
The Toronto Standard is built on a liquid layout. It adapts seamlessly to match and exceed the end user's expectations, no matter what those expectations are. Content is re-sized, re-ordered and prioritized, matching layout to the device that calls it.
For Playground leadership Brian Pullen (CEO) and Ryan Bannon (CD) building a site as unique as its readers was simple.
"The New York Times has 9 native applications currently on the market. 10 if you consider the physical paper, a native mobile platform. In all, these applications exist to serve one end, the delivery of timely news," said Bannon.
"In resurrecting the Toronto Standard we knew we had an opportunity. We could throw out unnecessary legacy and platform issues and attack the real problem: delivering news.
Think about it, 9 native applications require 9 sets of changes for every update, and a plethora of unique skill sets. For a new brand, this system of content delivery is not scalable or feasible.
Plus we could do better."
Eschewing the building of native applications for iOS, Android, Palm and Blackberry platforms, Playground attacked the problem at its root. "Online reading is a UX problem, as readers, we expect a structure that matches our expectations of the device. There is no one size fits all."
Playground developed wireframes and designs for common screen sizes from the very small (320 x 480) to the very large (1280 x 720). Tasking its designers to understand the hierarchy of content and design for each of these common formats.
"Each peice of the puzzle is unique. Each device requires its own handling of content." Additionally, each item must be able to scale, which when done correctly, allows the site's programming to interpolate the myriad of variations between each framing condition.
"Leveraging the leading edge of liquid design and pairing it with dynamic reading platform Treesaver into a system that meets the needs of today's nimble news organizations is no small task," added Bannon.
"There were sleepless nights -- a lot of them."