Posted on Wednesday 9 May 2012 by Ulster Business
The Independent and the London Evening Standard both launched redesigned websites last year, with the aim of increasing their revenue and circulation.
It is a move that was perhaps to be expected after The Independent was taken over in 2010 by Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev (who had already purchased the Evening Standard a year earlier) particularly as online traffic is increasingly recognised as essential to the viability of all news media.
What is less well known is that each project was overseen by Belfast-based designer Gerry Patterson.
Gerry was the director of digital development for the Belfast Telegraph’s owner Independent News & Media before setting up his own design agency Patterson Design Associates in early 2011.
He was recruited as a design consultant for The Independent project in May of last year and, following its successful completion, for the London Evening Standard Online. He is also involved in The Independent’s new campaigning site Independent Voices, to be launched soon.
“My aim for these challenging projects was to deliver an elegant and intuitive design that was ideally suited to publishing, easy to implement and which encouraged interaction with readers. The ambitious goals set by both the Independent and Evening Standard required me to use all my expertise in digital publishing but the response to the finished product has been very positive,” the designer told Ulster Business.
Gerry’s role in the projects went beyond the front-end appearance of the revamped websites. Both The Independent and the London Evening Standard emphasised the importance of their new sites evolving digitally to suit the contemporary reading practices of an increasingly mobile audience. They were also aiming for higher levels of reader interaction through comments and integration with social media sites. This required an understanding of technology trends and handling editorial flow through the right content management system.
Martin King, the editor of independent.co.uk, described the revamp as “the start of a continuous process – on a new platform with the flexibility for a rapid evolution in an age where users have three or four ways to read or view what we offer.”
One of the project managers for The Independent and Evening Standard, Eleanor Thompson, praised Gerry’s “eye for detail, creativity and enthusiasm”, saying that not only did he produce great designs but also made them user-centred, so it was easier for editors to publish new content.
“Gerry is more than just a designer; he made my job so much easier due to his extensive knowledge of technology and content management systems. Because of this knowledge he instinctively knows what the service users will need, and he’ll persuasively steer all stakeholders in the right direction,” she said.
The fact that large London-based organisations are recruiting service providers from Northern Ireland will be welcome news for many emerging and established local SMEs. It perhaps indicates there is a willingness to look beyond London for the right person for the job and recognition of the talent of Belfast-based companies in the creative, publishing and technology industries.
Gerry himself is now keen to make sure local organisations know that he hasn’t disappeared to the big smoke for good.
“The seven months I spent in London working with The Independent and London Evening Standard were a fantastic experience, and I am delighted to say that I will be continuing to work with them in future,” he said.
“But I live in Belfast and I want people here to know that the company doesn’t just undertake large scale projects across the water. Patterson Design Associates has been set up to provide solutions and guidance to any organisation that’s keen to take a more innovative, leading edge approach to online design, technology and content management, drawing from my own experience, and the experience of my associates, in Northern Ireland and London.”
For more information check out pattersondesignassociates.co.uk