After investigating the web technology of "Service Workers" which allow websites to inject code onto a user's device to be executed if connection is lost, I started thinking about the possibility of providing an alternative offline experience.
I started by exploring the offline pages of other websites. While most sites did not provide any offline page, the Guardian's offline crossword stood out to me as a great piece of opportunistic seamful design. Seamful design is where a designer acknowledges the "seams" that exist in a system (in this case the availability of an internet connection) and accounts for them into their design. In other words they plan for things that can cause a system not to function properly and design the user experience around this. To do so opportunistically means to use the seam as an opportunity to provide an alternative experience to the user.
I wanted to build on this idea of incorporating an element of fun into the offline page and give the user something to occupy their time whilst offline, making them more likely to remain on the site until they regain connection. Since the user would likely have visited the site with the intent of consuming news content, I decided to experiment with caching news content offline that could be loaded if the user lost connection. BuzzFeed News produces a daily newsletter which is a daily roundup of the biggest stories of the day. This gave me the idea of framing this as a "BuzzFeed daily newspaper", a lightweight, offline, update of news which could be delivered to the user's device daily.
Working closely with designers, engineers and journalists from the news team I created a working prototype of the idea. This was a challenge on both a design and engineering level. It was a very interesting process collaborating with the BuzzFeed News designers and art team to finalise a design that would create the fun newspaper feel whilst reflecting the recently rebranded BuzzFeed News site. Additionally, the project required significant full stack software engineering to serve the newsletter data and cache it to the device effectively.