The header performs a tonne of roles. It introduces the brand and establishes trust, provides navigational context and generates revenue. It helps Harpreet financially contribute to the Guardian, and Duarte find a recipe for the perfect veggie burger.
Showcasing sections effectively could be the difference between a reader hitting 'back' and watching a youtube video, or staying and moving on to another page. On smaller devices where space is limited, conveying the breadth of the Guardian's content is particularly challenging.
Conversely at larger breakpoints the header provided a little too much of an indication of the Guardian's editorial offering. This resulted in a hard to digest and overwhelming number of navigational options.
Working closely with a senior engineer, UX researcher and a product manager, my challenge was to simplify the header — without damaging the distribution of traffic across the website. This also doubled up as an opportunity to introduce the re-designed Guardian brand to readers.
The new design needed to highlight the breadth of the Guardian's coverage and improve brand understanding for users both new and old. It needed to give a warm welcome to first-time visitors, while not confusing or alienating regular readers.
“It looks cheap and nasty, like an NHS leaflet about Chlamydia”—Alienated
Boy did we test! Through the time frame of around a year I designed, developed, and prototyped iterative versions of the header. We AB tested on the live website, interviewed readers in our dedicated UX lab, and harassed tired commuters at train stations — bribing them with Guardian branded pens.
The new design has been a huge success. A simplified navigation both hierarchically and graphically. It's become an important income stream, generating over twice the revenue of the previous design.