Tobias Renström
Information architecture is how individual parts fits together to form a coherent whole. Great architecture means an app can be easily understood by newcomers, intuitively navigated and ultimately gain traction with customers.

I’ve dealt with numerous thorny architecture problems over the years. At Lunar, at Qapital, at 44 and, as laid out below, at Schibsted.
Reshaping a classic internet brand
Schibsted, Stockholm
In 2018, I joined Schibsted to help their classic tv guide meet the future. As streaming services like Netflix had increased in popularity, so had the company’s prospect of going out of fashion.
The plan in place
When I joined, efforts had been made to launch a new section for browsing content on streaming services. We were putting together themes and collections, to recommend what you might want to watch. It hadn’t taken off. More than 95% of the traffic was still contained to the traditional broadcast tv schedule.

Discussions arose about wether to switch out the broadcast schedule completely, in favour of the new browsing section. Maybe people just hadn’t given it a chance yet? Internally, this was referred to as “ripping the band aid” - something that had to be done, but we knew it would be painful.

Ripping this particular band aid surely wouldn’t have made the new section any more appealing to users. And it surely risked adding significant irritation for people who mainly used the app for the broadcast schedule. It could have ended in a lot of time spent down a wrong turn, or worse.
What we were about
I started exploring for an alternative strategy. To communicate this to the rest of the organisation, I began by looking at what defined the brand from an outside perspective, what most people felt the product to be. I talked to users and looked at all previous iterations, going back to 1998. They were all essentially a schedule of broadcast air-times. Three main points came up.

1. We had always been an objective source of truth. Objective as in we were trusted to provide facts, air times to be precise. Not to provide taste, opinion or recommendations.
2. We were related to time, the content people came to us for had always had an anchor to a point in time.
3. We were about tv, not what’s in cinemas or on Netflix.

Since we had been around for such a long time, about 20 years, in more of less the same format, it was safe to assume that for the user base we had - this is what they were using it for, and that’s what was paying the bills for the 20 something people on staff.

It became clear that hindering, or abandoning that functionality would not be the way forward.
The misconception
I also looked at what content really looked like on streaming services. I realised we were working under the misconception that content on streaming services was simply there, and all you needed to do was to find it.

But this way of looking at it ignores the fact that even on-demand content do become available at some point in time. Perhaps, that perspective even narrows things down to the most interesting type of content - the new stuff and the stuff that’s about to come out soon.
A better way
What if rather than killing off what’s working, we would instead refresh our traditional broadcast schedule, by integrating currently interesting streaming content in to it? It could look and feel much the same, but the new type of content could slot right in. Looking at it that way, there is no band aid to pull. There’s only a way to make the existing core of the product better.

So what now opened up for us was new opportunities to tackle problems people were having in the modern world. Things like when and where their favourite show would become available, what’s new on Netflix this week, what’s new on HBO this month. And then how to conveniently navigate to them. From this, we also came up with some innovative new ideas, like composing your own personalised channels, based on what shows you wanted to follow.

We scrapped the existing plan of removing the schedule and, instead, we nurtured it in to the modern world, where traditional broadcast shows can live hand-in-hand with streaming.