WEBSITE DESIGN

OBAMA: THE IRAN DEAL

OBAMA: THE IRAN DEAL

The most millenial presidential interview, like, ever.

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BRAND

Mic

ROLE

Art Direction, UX Design, Branding

YEAR

2015

In 2015 President Obama announced a deal that would significantly reduce Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for lifted sanctions. There were critics from both sides and the White House was in the midst of a PR disaster and realized they needed to get Americans on board. The White House wanted young people to have a deeper understanding of the deal and the benefits it could provide, so they sent RFPs to media companies that were reaching millennials.

In 2015 the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the EU, as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran came to a framework agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The deal would significantly reduce Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for lifted sanctions. A deal like this, while monumental, had many critics from both sides, most prominently Republicans were very much opposed to negotiating with Iran by any means. Furthermore many democrats were very weary of any deal with Iran considering their history. The White House was in the midst of a PR disaster and realized they needed to drum up as much support as they could and get Americans on board. In addition to sending President Obama around the country in an aggressive TV media blitz, The White House wanted the public, especially young people to have a deeper understanding of the deal and how it would provide many more benefits than skeptics were making it out to be. The White House sent requests for proposals to select media companies that were specifically reaching millennials.

inspiration
Design Inspiration: overlaid text, bold colors, & high contrast as visual design inspiration for the digital expierience. 

The Problem

In order to win the bid, we needed to prove we not only had unique, engaging ideas, but that we could present those ideas in an informative way that a young audience would be receptive to. Additionally, there would be 13 days from proposal to the launch of the project.

How to create an engaging experience for millenials to learn about The Iran Deal. In order to win the bid, we needed to prove we not only had unique, engaging ideas, but that we could present those ideas in an informative way that a young audience would be receptive to. Also from approval, there would just about 13 days from proposal to the launch of the project.

Users & Audience

Using data we acquired over a year-long audience research survey, we knew alot about our readers. Most of Mic’s readers were college-educated, they were more female than male, leaned more left politically, and were concerned about world events. A majority were based in the US, and they were very engaged on social media.

Using data we acquired over a year-long audience research survey, we knew alot about our readers. Most of Mic’s readers were college-educated, they leaned more female than male, leaned more left politically, were concerned about world events. A majority were based in the US, and they were very engaged on social media.

Team & Role

Because of the magnitude of the project, multiple departments were involved from the get go. For the proposal, the team gathered over a period of two days and settled on an idea that relied on many moving parts. The concept would be a sit down interview between Mic’s co-founder and President Barack Obama that incorporated audience submitted questions. The video team would film and edit the interview. The Product team would build a series of digital products to support the project, including a public facing video uploader for question submissions and a responsive microsite that the video would live on. The editorial team would write its own response to the deal as well as transcribe the interview into an article. Lastly, design would be responsible for branding the project, designing the video uploader, designing the site’s UX and UI, the marketing materials for PR, articles, and social media, as well as the presentation for the proposal itself. 

This whole project was hinged around heavy collaboration, we had multiple departments involved from the get go. For the proposal, the team gathered over a period of two days and settled on a rather simple idea but one that relied on many moving parts. The concept would be a sit down interview between Mic’s co-founder Jake Horowitz and President Barack Obama. The video team would film and edit the interview. The editorial team would write it’s own response to the Iran deal as well as transcribe the interview into an article. The Product team would build a series a digital products to support the project; a public facing video uploader for question submissions and the responsive microsite that the video would live on. Lastly, design would be responsible for branding the project, designing the video uploader, designing the site’s UX and UI, the marketing materials for PR, articles, and social media, as well as the presentation for the proposal itself. 

obama notes
Rough sketches of how the we could lay out the video and transcript that would take users through an informational journey.

Process

Our process was to be largely dictated by the proposal we had sent The White House. On the design side, we knew that there was an identity phase, a UX exploration phase, a visual mockup phase, and a marketing asset phase. In order to successfully pull off the project, we had to make use of our time efficiently and work in an agile format. I delegated two designers as owners on two seperate deliverables; one for wireframing the desired UX and the other for UI and visual treatments. 

We decided to highlight the video as that’s how most of our audience tended to digest complicated topics, but made sure to balance it with critical responses from our editorial teams.

Our process was to be largely dictated by the proposal we had sent The White House. On the design side, we knew that there was an identity phase, a UX exploration phase, a visual mockup phase, and lastly a marketing asset phase. In order to successfully pull off the project, we had to make use of our time efficiently and work in a somewhat agile format. I delegated two designers as owners two seperate deliverables; one for wireframing the desired UX and the other for UI and visual treatments. In addition to directing the design, the took the task of working on the identity.


Due to the tight turnaround of the project, true data acquisition and research was not feasible within our timeframe. We had to utilize the survey data we already had to understand what our readers would want to see in an immersive article. We decided to on focus on video as that’s how most of our audience prepared to digest longer complicated topics, as well as including critical responses from our editorial teams.

illustration evolution
Evolution of the opening illustration for the website.

User Interface

The branding aspect included two main deliverables. The first was designing an identity for this interview with The President of the United States. The second was capitalizing on the opportunity to turn this single interview into a potential new Mic series we decided to call The Mic Interview.

The branding aspect included two main deliverables; the first was designing an identity for this interview with The President of the United States. The second was capitalizing on the opportunity to turn this single interview into a potential new Mic series we decided to call, The Mic Interview.

obama branding
Initial identity options showing colors, typography, and brand lockup. 

The aesthetic of the project needed to be contemporary enough to appeal to a younger demographic as well refined enough to get approval from The White House. We decided on utilizing a monochromatic color palette with a heavy use of deeply saturated Yves Klein Blue and white, a nod to a nineties-esque web. The entire identity including the interface and marketing assets was designed to be highly visual, incorporating heavy use of imagery, illustrations, and text.

The aesthetic of the project was very key to both Mic and The White House; it had to be contemporary to appeal to a younger demographic as well refined enough to get approval from The White House. We decided on utilizing a monochromatic color palette with a heavy use of deeply saturated Yves Klein Blue and white, a nod to a nineties-esque web. The entire identity including the interface and marketing assets were designed to be highly visual, incorporating heavy use of imagery, illustrations, and text.

[show showups of the site within laptop and iphone]

Interaction Design

The UX of the site was extremely fluid and interactive for our readers on mobile and desktop. It was a highly collaborative process between the design and engineering teams. We utilized scroll based interactions to launch the main interview experience. 

The UX of the site ended up extremely fluid and interactive for our readers. We made sure to create similar experiences for both mobile and desktop. It was a highly collaborative process between the design and engineering teams, with initial UX concepts coming from design and then iterated on once being built by engineering. We utilized scroll based interactions to launch the main interview experience. 

Social Promotion

obama social promotion

The assets we designed for social media were potentially the most important of all, since they would get a broader audience to engage with the interview. In addition to these assets, we also created spots that would live in places traditionally reserved for ads in order to encourage people reading other content to read or watch the interview.

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Outcome

The interview was a huge win for Mic. The White House thought that the resulting experience was fair and thoughtful, and more importantly it conveyed that Mic was capable of informing young people about such an important policy decision. 

The interview was a huge win for Mic, we were a rather small operation but this interview gave us the credibility we needed. President like Barack Obama who is known for being methodical, smart, and aware choose Mic to inform young people about an important policy decision. The White House thought that the resulting experience was fair and thoughtful. They conveyed to us that they thought the production value was extremely high and appreciated all the work that went into it.

The article and video views from the project weren’t huge but we anticipated for that result from the onset. Most people, young or old, do not click through to watch a video on foreign policy initiatives. With that said, our audience was very engaged and stayed on the site for an average of XX minutes. Ultimately it was a brand play which provided immediate credibility. Furthermore it helped foster a relationship with the White House, as they reached out just a few months later for another interview.

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