Beer, Serendipity, and the New BostonGlobe.com

By Tito Bottitta September 12, 2011

Late last year, Mike and I opened a big, champagne-sized bottle of beer and paced the room. We were in my apartment at 10 o’clock doing what we do every night — trying to figure out how we could convince the powers-that-be that they should (totally, absolutely, indubitably) buy into one of our crazy ideas.

See, The Boston Globe had hired us — three newspaper veterans, web designers, and avowed media junkies — to design BostonGlobe.com, a brand new site that would bring the newspaper experience to the screen. We huddled around my kitchen table, newspapers and printouts scattered everywhere, and talked about how the new site should be optimized to work on all screens — iPhones, tablets, Kindles, laptops, and screens not even invented yet. There would be one newspaper (and one codebase) to rule them all. You can tell we were already converts to Ethan Marcotte’s responsive design philosophy.

But how to convince Globe management? We drank some Dogfish Head Squall IPA, pored over data, and prepared our case.

Armed with these bullet points and many more, we strode into our meeting the next morning with Globe brass (our first) prepared to plead our case.

We had barely begun before Jeff Moriarty, Miranda Mulligan, and Dan Zedek interrupted: “We think you’re right on. In fact, we’ve already hired Filament Group to do the development and they’ve been telling us the same thing.”

Damn. Well. That was easy. You guys were already way ahead of us.

I’m not sure that we’ve ever had a better start to a project.

It got better in our first meeting with Filament when we learned that Ethan had joined the project, too. With Jeff and Miranda paving the way at The Globe (as well as the full complement of Filament Groupers, including the incomparable Scott Jehl, Mat Marquis, Todd Parker, Patty Toland, and Maggie Wachs), the team was in place. Next was the fun part — we were all going to try to make the most reader-friendly (and cutting-edge) news website out there.

We’ll talk more about that in a later blog post, but for now, flip over to the BostonGlobe.com portfolio page and check out some of the coolest features.

A project of this magnitude doesn’t come to life without an even larger team than the one I mentioned. Upstatement was just a small part of a huge ensemble that includes some important decision makers at The Globe, particularly Marty Baron, Bennie DiNardo, and Chris Mayer. And before I get music’d off the stage, I’ll say that there are so many more developers, advisers, marketers, designers, managers, Italians, and others who had a hand in this process. Thanks to each one of you. Though we may not know your names, we certainly appreciate your efforts in launching the new BostonGlobe.com!

Update: An earlier version of this blog post inadvertently gave the impression that Upstatement somehow convinced The Globe to go down the responsive path. That wasn’t my intention at all. This post is written from our perspective before our first meeting with The Globe — we didn’t know yet where they stood or that Filament was involved in the process. The fact that we all arrived at the project independently but on the same page was part of the awesome serendipity I refer to in the title. The post has been updated to try and make that more clear. For a more in-depth look at the process and the unique collaboration between all the teams, definitely check out Ethan’s blog post over at Unstoppable Robot Ninja, Patty’s recap over at Filament, and The Boston Globe’s video.
– Tito

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