iPondr

We helped build a publishing and media company from concept to market in the span of eight months.

Screenshot of iPondr Global Navigation

The Outcome

When we first met Kate Mortenson, founder of iPondr, we knew we had found an extraordinary vision and mission. We follow a simple motto to determine which projects we take on: "be the change you want to see in the world," and there are few more significant opportunities to create impact with our skills than helping build businesses that want to improve society. The iPondr mission is one of the noblest in the pursuit of publishing honest news on topics inspired and aligned with the UN Global Goals.

We partnered with Fantasy, a creative agency we have worked with on several projects since 2018. With their creativity in brand and UI design paired with our ability to rapidly build complex websites on WordPress, going from concept (June 2020) to market (January 2021). In those six months, we created more than just a product. We helped build a business and became advisors for iPondr beyond launch.

“We hired you to build a website, and instead, you built a business!”

Ryan DanielsExecutive Producer at Fantasy Interactive

Media Technology

The iPondr website is one of the best case studies for the capabilities of WordPress when used for publishing. We dialed in the admin experience, tailoring it to the complex workflows of a media company. From the brand and user experience to admin processes and workflows, we reduced complexity across the website. We demonstrated how much WP can be used to power experiences that feel more like a product than a blog or news website.

On the backend, we built custom plugins that brought in custom functionality and matched the robust operational workflows:

  • Custom data and analytics integrations to synchronize events to HubSpot
  • A¬†reactions plugin to enhance the engagement and sentiment of commenting and networking value
  • Custom content types based on a robust schema and ERD
  • Business logic for subscriptions and access controls
  • Integration with Stripe and ChargeBee for payment controls
  • and subscription management
  • Database optimization and indexing for fast rendering and search
Screenshot of the media drawer on iPondr.com

React Frontend

On the frontend, in addition to building a custom theme, we developed a wide variety of components to have granular control over performance, motion, aesthetic, and user experience:

  • Proprietary media player for mixed-media playlists of audio and video
  • Responsive and native controls for a seamless experience across web and mobile
  • Optimized and progressive rendering for improved site speed
  • Robust navigation and search tools
Screenshot of iPondr Playlists

Methodology

Throughout the journey, Unicorn helped with everything from an incubator perspective, from pitching investors to overseeing product ownership. Leading up to launch, we owned the entire process from beta testing to market launch. The final week leading up to the launch was an incredible push and collaboration between Unicorn and iPondr teams, going as far as all-nighters and last-minute optimizations to squeeze in additional features for launch. Some of the methodologies and areas of responsibility we assumed:

  • Beta and Testing Strategy
  • Training on and managing Agile/Scrum methodologies
  • Pitching investors alongside founders as interim CTO and development partner
  • Quality Assurance and User Acceptance Testing
  • Training and refining operational, editorial, and publishing processes
  • Consulting and integrating Marketing Tech
  • Triaging issues, bugs, features, and tasks across all teams

After launch, we consulted on an expansion initiative that positioned iPondr firmly in the field of corporate education specific to providing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training. We also authored patent applications for collecting sentiment data and using artificial intelligence to create maps of human sentiment about interaction with journalistic media to help shape and improve that media.

Screenshot of iPondr Article Progress