Jan 24, 2017work, digital, UX

Smoke Media website rebrand


As part of my role as student media coordinator, I initiated a ground-up rebuild of Smoke Media’s web presence in 2016.

Before I began work, Smoke’s web presence was disparate, consisting of a Youtube channel, two aged and dissimilar Wordpress sites, and a free Wix site. All used out-of-the-box templates with minimal customisation. Most importantly, all were very different from each other.

One of my strategic priorities was to shift Smoke Media from a print-first to a digital-first organisation, reflecting the shift going on in the wider world. It was also vital to communicate a single, converged brand to our audience.

I met with student stakeholders to come up with a feature set and compile design ideas for the new website. I introduced students to a common web design progress: brief, wireframe, mockups, prototypes and product.

It was very important that the new site automate common tasks such as the uploading of electronic versions of print publications, a process which involved many manual, tedious steps. Integration with external services such as Youtube, Audioboom and a number of custom in-house APIs was also necessary.

The website combines content and functionality from Westminster SU's student-led radio & TV station, newspaper and magazine.

Rather than using Wordpress multisite or completely seperate websites to give the impression of convergence while still being seperate under the bonnet, the new Smoke website makes clever use of customised category pages and custom fields to offer a multimedia experience which is met by few other student media groups.

Student media volunteers can replace a default featured image with a video or piece of audio, allowing for easy collaborations between outlets.

A custom post type live events allows video livestreams, radio broadcast players and text liveblogs to be combined on a single topic for converged coverage.

The website automatically imports recently uploaded content to Audioboom, Youtube and Issuu, among other services.

The website features special content sections to promote particular campaigns.

The new website offers a fit-for-purpose platform for publishing content, and is the ideal springboard to bring Westminster’s two publications into the digital-first present.

It will also enable the later development of a cross-platform mobile application, which will automatically fetch content from the website database using the Wordpress REST API.