Innovative site builds audience loyalty, offers new ways to interact with favourite shows and provides additional revenue streams
London, England – 1 August 2008 –ThoughtWorks, the global IT consultancy, today announced that it has successfully completed delivery of E4’s new community interaction web site. The site, designed to create an online community for fans of E4’s most popular programmes, will contain unique and exclusive content (e.g. episode trailers), opportunities for viewer participation (e.g. programme-related contests), user generated content (sharing views and experiences), commenting and voting. It was built in less than six months and completed within budget.
Channel 4 took the decision to build the site after experiments to promote its E4 programmes using social networking sites proved extremely popular. James Tatam (E4.com Business Manager), at Channel 4, said: “Following our initial MySpace site trial for Skins, we wanted to build on that success and envisioned an online community site where we could engage, excite and grow our E4 audience base, building loyalty, and from a commercial viewpoint creating new revenue streams and advertising potential.”
The technical challenge around performance and scalability added to complex external integration requirements. Storage and server capacity was restricted, and needed to be shared with other Channel 4 sites, so ThoughtWorks designed and built an innovative RESTful architecture which enabled the site to be remarkably lightweight and low cost in terms of hardware, by using the Web’s own caching technology to assist performance. A domain-specific language technique was used for integration with the Content Management System and Open Source libraries were used to supplement the Java build. The whole site is backed by just four shared servers handling 1,000 read requests and up to 70 write requests per second.
Dan Bodart, web architect and tech lead for ThoughtWorks, said: “This project was hugely exciting for many reasons and we rose to the technical and time challenges we faced. The new site not only enables E4 programme fans to play an active and creative part in the communities around their favourite shows, but also provides Channel 4 with a flexible platform for future innovations in new media. We look forward to our future working relationship with Channel 4, supporting a major strategic initiative for 2009.”
Tatam continued: “When choosing a partner to work with, we needed a company who could demonstrate proven credentials in this particular type of project, provide a robust development team and had the ability to innovate around the challenges – we felt that ThoughtWorks met all of these requirements."
ThoughtWorks headed a combined project team to provide project management, application development, architectural design and build, integrated testing, responsibility for end-to-end project ownership and final delivery of the site whilst collaborating closely with the Channel 4 team at every step of the way. Leading the 40-person strong team according to Agile principles, ThoughtWorks worked with Channel 4 to focus on the initial release set of functionality to deliver value to the site’s users and the business quickly, rather than working through an exhaustive list of features before launching. Several further releases have already occurred, building on the initial launch based on feedback and user analysis.
The very tight, fixed project timeframe was set to support the marketing launch of one of the E4 TV programme’s new seasons. The ‘conception to launch’ timeframe also had to be very short as the payback period for the whole project only ran to the end of 2008.
ThoughtWorks, Inc. (www.thoughtworks.com) is a global IT consultancy providing systems development, consulting, and transformation services to Global 1000 companies. The company's pioneering approach, which includes industry-acclaimed Agile and Lean best practices, helps CIOs maximise investment performance across a portfolio of complex, business critical applications, while reducing time and risk. ThoughtWorks' 900 professionals serve clients from offices in Australia, Canada, China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. ThoughtWorks Studios is the company’s specialist product division, which develops the next generation of tools for custom software development.
E4 is the UK's most popular youth channel, with a range of programming that includes award-winning home-grown hits such as Skins and Fonejacker as well as the best of US Acquisitions and a dedicated music zone.
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Katy White, ThoughtWorks
Tel: 020 7497 4517
Toby Jones, Channel 4
Tel: 020 7306 3682
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