CBC Digital Labs
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CBC Digital Labs

Tokyo 2020: How do we get ready for a big event at CBC?

This post is part of a series on “How do we get ready for a big event at CBC” in 2021 starting with the Tokyo Summer Olympics. In each blog post, individuals and teams will share how we create the personal, relevant, and engaging experiences that Canadians expect. Our goal is to make sure all Canadians see themselves reflected in our digital services while connecting them to the many communities and voices that make our country great.

Web Experience Team

Left to right, top row: Haley Coppins, UX Researcher; Gareth Peek, Senior Developer; Abby Christens, Senior Developer; Rob Klein, Senior Developer; Beth Robins, UX Architect. Second row: Palak Desai, Product Owner; Alfe Clemencio, Senior Developer; Amelia Deng, Senior Developer, QA Engineering; Neeraja Murali Dharan, Senior Developer; Carrie Yuen, Senior Manager. Third row: Shashi Venkata, Senior Developer, QA Engineering; Patricia Mauro, Product Manager; Ania Medrek, Product Designer

Patricia Mauro (Product Manager) on planning the Tokyo 2020 experience

Q: What is your favourite Olympics sport?

My favourite Olympic sport is Freestyle Skiing. There is something untroubled about the athletes soaring through the air that reminds me of birds taking flight. It’s beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

Q: What does a big event mean? What is the scale of it?

A big event is any event or content topic so big that an audience flocks to media outlets for information in huge numbers. This could be a known event like an election, or it could be an unplanned event like COVID. The audience behaviours are largely similar. Information seeking. We are here to help them to make sense of it all.

Q: When do you get started on working on a big event?

If the event is planned, like the Olympics, we can start planning for it a year or more in advance depending on the scope of the build we need to support the audience and the organization. For an unplanned event we try to activate tools and components we have already created to support the influx of audience. Sometimes the audience may have new or materializing needs and we need to react to ensure we are supporting our users. So when COVID hit, for example, we developed a site wide component to help users navigate to the top content themes emerging from the pandemic. This may look like simply creating something on the fly, but we build thoughtful experiences that are extensible, so this becomes a feature we can enable in future if we need to.

Q: What are the tactics used for big events e.g. editorial content, marketing, revenue generation, etc?

If the event is planned we employ a number of tactics to support our audience. Discoverability of the content is one of the core needs. This could involve enabling an existing merchandising function, content clustering or we could perform a full User Experience (UX) brainstorming session to ideate how best to meet the needs or our users by identifying common pathways and exploring opportunity spaces. Meeting users where they are, and helping them find their way to the content that is most relevant to them at that time is how we serve our audience during a Big Event.

Q: What does your team do?

We build and optimize the web experience (UX) for every CBC.ca user and their journey within our feed service. Our work is rooted in our audience and their needs.

Q: What other people, teams or departments do you work with? How do they help you on the road to success?

We work with other colleagues across the organization in design, research, strategy, content and marketing. Our collaborative work with each of these teams is the key to growing and retaining our relationship with the audience during a big event but also in the day-to-day information seeking users come to CBC for every day.

Ania Medrek (Product Designer) on designing the Tokyo 2020 experience

Q: What is your favourite Olympics sport?]

During the summer Olympics I enjoy watching Gymnastics and Swimming. It’s thrilling to see the athletes reach their goals. Those medal moments can be so emotional.

Q: What are the design considerations when a big event is in another time zone?

Because Tokyo is on the other side of the world, it’s especially important that our audience is able to figure out what time to watch events in local time, as opposed to in Tokyo time. This was front of mind while we designed the Streaming and TV Schedule pages.

Another consideration is that many events may take place overnight, while Canadians are sleeping. To solve for this, we made it easy to find videos of highlights and replays so viewers can catch up on events the next day.

Q: Was there anything different in your planning/designing for this event compared to previous events?

Designing the Olympics experience for Cbc.ca required more planning and coordination than any other big event I have worked on for CBC.

Luckily I wasn’t alone — I had the privilege of working with a small team of User Experience experts and together we went through iterative phases of discovery research, defining our goals, designing, refining, and finally passing over final mocks to developers.

Q: What is your approach designing products for the general public?

As a Product Designer at CBC my job is to learn about our audience needs and find ways to address them in our digital products. My approach involves discovering what problems the audience is facing, considering those insights through the lens of our business priorities, and coming up with solutions.

This Olympics definitely put this approach to the test. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the audience interacts with our Olympics website, and to find ways to make the experience even better for Beijing 2022.

To join our teams at CBC, check out our current openings here.



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