Ilta-Sanomat is one of Finland’s major newspapers. Its mobile and web services are the most popular in the country and digital accounts for a significant portion of the news service’s turnover. The site serves vast amounts of data to readers in approximately 31 million visits per week.
Initially, back in 2012, we created a simple native iOS client + an API backend to access the editorial content. Mobile site (m.iltasanomat.fi) and Weather API were released in 2013. Over the years, our transparent way of working and the fact that we obviously have their best interests at heart, as well as our ability to deliver on promises has made an impression. We now have a team of designers and tech experts working on site.
One of the challenges we worked on together with Ilta-Sanomat was a robust and responsive reboot of www.iltasanomat.fi, with increased stability, decreased response times and a seamless UX across a wide variety of devices, browsers and platforms - for both consumers and content creators. Other major issues with the old version included a production release cycle of months and downtime for every update.
Futurice has had a team working at Ilta-Sanomat for long enough that the client characterises the communication between vendor and customer as bordering on telepathy, which made understanding the nature of the issues as well as finding the correct solutions a lot easier. The on-site team has a very deep understanding of the unique challenges posed by the nature of the content being delivered, its popularity and the established benchmarks for stability and robustness.
“A thorough understanding of the background systems, the nature of the content and especially the feel of the brand are all built over time. A long-term relationship allows us to plan for the long term and makes launching new features and services much easier.”
- Nicklas Koski, Producer (Mobile), Ilta-Sanomat.
A single page load can contain up to 150 editorial images per page and content, including advertisements, comes in from dozens of 3rd party sources. The surging popularity of ISTV streaming video content posed a challenge, too. Growth over the last year was 150%.
Many of the required improvements were achieved by separating the frontend UI from the legacy CMS.
For many of the unique technical solutions, Futurice’s experts found an open source component with a proven record elsewhere and improved upon it. The custom solution for responsive image loading is a good example, It was adapted from a component used by BBC News.
Custom solutions were also produced to retain the characteristic design of the service across all platforms and channels, including responsive headings. Some changes were made, too. The design was tweaked to improve readability, without sacrificing the Ilta-Sanomat feel that readers are used to.
- Production release cycle is now days, not months.
- Updates are possible without downtime. Downtime impacts advertising revenue, so this was a critical improvement.
- The site is more robust in all areas and issues in one area are no longer reflected throughout the service.
- New services are faster to develop and implement: IS Extra, a paid subscription service, which offers all games in the Finnish premier division football league, took a mere month to deploy, from brief to launch.
- Ilta-Sanomat was among the first newspapers to offer an Apple Watch service.
“We are now able to offer a better optimised user experience for a wider variety of devices than before,” says Director of Online Services Timo Rinne. “On the whole, the new site allows us to develop our services in a faster and more agile way than before and we can now make updates without any downtime,”
- Timo Rinne, Director of Online Services, Ilta-Sanomat