Border Stories.

A responsive web micro-site aimed at highlighting and resurfacing archival news and media to a newer audience based on the growing uncertainty surrounding Northern Ireland post Brexit. Completed during a hackathon.

  • Role
  • Lead Designer
  • Year
  • 2016
  • Company
  • The Irish Times
  • Tools
  • Sketch, Invision, HTML, CSS
  • Platform
  • Responsive

The Problem.

With the rise in fake news supply and the not so distant past troubles between the North and Republic of Ireland history may be closer than we like to think of repeating its. As a hard brexit deal looms closer and close, one thing is on the minds of those who live on either side of the country lines; will a border be reintroduced? The border in question is the border that sperates the Republic of Ireland from its British neighbour, Northern Ireland. Although nothing more than superficial line placements for those that live and communte between the two countries every day, in the past however, all 156 of these borders were guarded by police and armed forces. Like most borders, trouble ensued at these gateways with nearly all having a violent past.

With so much archival footage at its fingertips, can The Irish Times create a platform which enables conversation, education and solidarity by highlighting the mistakes of the past so they are not repeated in the future?

The Solution.

The solution to this political, violent, and often mournful topic is to create The Irish Times: Border Stories. Teaming up with renowned data journalists, a multi disciplinary team fron The Irish Times would ressurect old content along with creating new around the topic of each of the border stop locations. This would be paired with award winning journalism and interactive multimedia experiences which would aim to educate and pay respect to the last 40 years of troubles.

This solution would be seen as particularly radical in terms of business moves for The Irish Times who for over 150 years has kept to its bread and butter reporting. Now for the first time a true digital push would be made within the company with a landmark project to bring The Irish Times into the 21st centuary along side other great publishers worldwide such as; The New York Times and The Guardian.

The Process.

Border Stories emerged as result of a 2 day hackathon held internally within The Irish Times. My role for the project was lead designs and along side another designer, a data journalist, two developers and 3 content editors we created the basis for what would go on to be one of the most read series of articles in The Irish Times digital history.

Following the design thinking process, we as a group brainstormed and ideated with each member of the team bringing unique suggestions based on their area of expertise. With a clear direction we would diverge and tackle a topic each, focusing all the while on a very rough and adhoc scenario


Michael is a 34 year old young professional live in celbridge and working in the city center. Michael commutes to and from work every day on the train. Whilst commuting Michael likes to occupy his time by browsing social media and new websites. Michael is subscribed to The Irish Times Morning News Briefing and often uses it as a way to keep up to date with current topics.

Michael receives his Morning News Briefing and notices that there is a new feature piece; The Irish Times Border Stories. Michaels father is from a border town and has grown up listening to stories about the area. Michael decides that on his commute he would like to explore more about his father's area.

User Flow.

Based on this basic scenario, it was clear that the flow of content would have to be extremely easy and mobile focused, over 50% of news is read on a mobile device, often whilst commuting or in the evening watching T.V.

The mobile nature of this experience raised its own problems, in particular around the interactivity and map exploration features. However, after a few iterations this problem was resolved with a quick, responsive and easy to use solution.


The design of Border Stories at the start, and unfortunatly not implemented in the final output was striking. It was monochrome with the accent colour of yellow to symbolise the many stop and hazzard signs which are strewn across the border landscape. This helped to evoke emotion and increase reader engagement through concern and empathy, a study in human psychology of color if you will.

Article Template.

Along with the role of lead designer, I later on in the project, once it recieved by-in from the man making decision upstairs, took on the role of front end developer for the new article templates, also designed by me. These templates were a step away from the traditional Irish Times templates and were in keeping with what can be seen elsewhere on the micro site.

The Result.

All in all this is a project that was well recieved by the public and gathered much attention both in Ireland and England. However, I personally feel it was a missed opportunity to push the boat out slightly further than our business as usual approach. I feel that when it came to putting pieces in production bureaucracy prevailed, resulting in what I would considered to be a chance not taken.

Personal opinions aside, this project was completed in record time (by The Irish Times standard) and saw a multi-disciplinary team work closely together to pay homage to a troubled time. It also helped me develop my time and people management skills, helping me to gain a voice at the decision table, not just for myself, but for design within an old school organisation.

Interactive Map & Article on Desktop.

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I am currently looking for interesting, rewarding roles in UI/UX and Product Design.