R Brian Redd

Case Study: Chicago Tribune Digital Edition

The redesign of the Chicago Tribune digital replica edition

By R. Brian Redd, December 28, 2017

The Project:

When initially onboarded by Olive Software, the Chicago Tribune and other Tribune Publishing titles where configured using Olive Software's standard "Olive Digital Edition" template. However, as this did not match the design and feel of Chicago's dot-com site, they contracted for Olive to redesign their digital replica edition. Eager for the challenge, I volunteered for this task.

Original Design: Main
Original template
Original Design: TOC
With Table of Contents extended
Original Design: Article
Article View

The Challenge:

The Olive Software skin (UI) architecture was based on a template (containing all common and default elements of an Olive skin) and a "skin" (delta files specific to the publication implementation). The Olive Digital Edition application was built on a ASP.NET back-end with custom Olive handlers and controls, and tied into a Flash-based publication viewer. (Olive has since retired the "Olive Digital Edition" application, replacing the Flash component with a pure HTML5 display.)

The Chicago Tribune design was significantly different from the Olive template, while maintaining same basic functionality. I had to decontruct the original template, isolate each component, modify as needed, and build a new template following Tribune's design specifications. In addition, the new UI had to be in itself a new template, as Chicago was only the first of the Tribune publications to use this new design

Original Design: Main
New design
Original Design: TOC
With Table of Contents extended as lateral pullouts rather than an accordion
Original Design: Article
New design article view

The Outcome:

I was able to successfully implement the new design, and replicate this across ten publications. When I was unable to interpret specific handler behavior, I was able to isolate the specific questions that needed answers and received necessary assistance from my R & D team in Israel.

The customer was very satified with the revised design, and used it for several years. It was only when Olive retired the Flash-based ODE that Tribune, now TRONC, chose another replica edition vendor.