Economist Debates

Economist debates is a successful product both measured by engagement and sponsorship revenue. Both engagement and the sponsorship appeal had been steadily declining because it was launched in the late 90s and had not been updated since.

Internally, everyone agreed that we need to refresh this product, but it was never high enough on the priority list. There were always projects that were more urgent than Debates.

The challenge here is to validate business value of investing in this product.


£300K+ launch sponsor committed which went to the development of the new version from less than a month’s work (2-day workshop + about 5 hours to produce deliverables). Since the relaunch, it’s been generating sponsorship revenue regularly.

My Role

I facilitated design sprint workshop, then collaborated with the Product Manager and Ad Sales to prepare the deliverables for various sales pitches.


We decided to try out a variation of design sprint.

The goal is to provide our sponsorship sales team materials to offer advertisers. We would then use the sponsorship revenue to build the product.

For 2 days a small cross-functional team work together to reimagine Economist debates. The participants were:

  1. Product owner: product manager
  2. Tech: developer
  3. Operations: production artist
  4. Monetization: VP of business development
  5. UX

Day 1 : Understand

debates design sprint: day1We started with a presentation by the product owner to set the stage for the design sprint. She went over data (revenue, traffic, competitors,etc.) to help us understand the challenge/opportunity, the scope of what we’re trying to do and what success looks like for the business.

After that, we had an open discussion about various insights that the different team member had to share based on their experience and exposure to the product.

We then worked together to identify the key user journeys then prioritize them for the next day.

Day 2: Ideate

debates design sprint: day2On second day, we did lots of sketching.

We started with the user journey at the top of the priority list defined in the previous day. Each of us created a mind map to visualize our understanding of how the different elements work together. Then we storyboarded the user journey through the product.

Once everyone is done with the sketches, we put them up on the wall, then we vote on the idea (or part of idea). After the voting, we go around and give opportunity for the idea creator to talk about their idea. Finally, we vote once more and collectively decide on the winning ideas.

After the workshop

After the workshop, I consolidated the ideas generated during the workshop and mock up key screens to demonstrate the idea. Since the goal of this exercise is to equip our sales team to sell a sponsorship deal for the product relaunch, I created additional deliverables to communicate what the sponsor would get: mock ups to show various placement in product and a diagram showing social media exposure.

Artifacts and Deliverables

design sprint: sketches
sketches from day 2
Debates dashboard
dashboard mock up
debates sponsor's view
sponsor’s view
debates ad on NY mag
ad on NY mag
debates what sponsor gets
what sponsor gets