New York Times
Rethinking the mobile app experience of New York Times, to make the content and experience more relatable, diverse and valuable.
PRODUCT DESIGN / UX/UI DESIGN / RESEARCH
The NYT challenged us to explore the perception of the voice, tone, and diversity of their content. Research given to us by New York Times suggested that NYT is perceived as unrelatable and does not appeal to younger audience because of its elitist tone, voice and lack of diversity.
This project was done in collaboration with Azucena Roma. We were guided by Renda Morton, VP Design, NYT. Our solution was presented to about 20 researchers and designers at the headquarters of New York Times.
Our goal was to determine if there were opportunities in that realm that might lead to increase in digital subscriptions.
We concentrated on frequent readers of the NYT that are college educated and between the ages of 25-39. These are the users that are not currently subscribed, but visit the site 4-9 times per month.
Our aim was to move frequent readers down the funnel and turn them into subscribers.
Through our research we wanted to :
1. Connect with frequent readers to determine their perception of the New York Times
2. Assess if their digital content currently serves readers adequately
3. Identify opportunities to add high-value features that frequent readers are interested in.
During our research, we focused on NYT’s voice, tone, and diversity. We began with desk research, released a survey for which we received 79 responses. And finally we conducted 12 interviews to gain insights on the overall perception of the NYT.
Insight #1: NYT’s serious tone is appreciated
We learned that the overall perception of the times was that it was a trusted and unbiased news source. We constantly heard the word “serious” and learned that the serious tone of the NYT’s voice was perceived as a positive trait. Our readers thought that this added to the credibility of the NYT.
Insight #2: Readers think NYT is all about politics
Our key finding was that an overwhelming amount of respondents weren’t aware of the NYT’s offerings outside of what they deemed as “serious” news coverage, citing that the mobile homepage had almost all politically focused content. These readers also exhibited a lack of awareness of the NYT’s enterprise content, which causes a disconnect to the relatability of the NYT’s mobile app - since the immediately visible “serious” content doesn’t resonate with them.
Insight #3: People want to skim through news multiple times a day
They also think that the articles are too long and require a larger time investment than they are willing to put forth on a daily basis. They prefer scrolling through the homepage to be up to date, multiple times a day. In fact, we heard time and again that people prefer
Insight #4: Popular locations to consume news
Reuters Digital News Report 2017 revealed that the top three locations to consume news were in bed, bathroom and while commuting.
Research has shown that the best predictor of whether or not someone will subscribe in the future is the number of times they visit the mobile app, which we believe will increase as engagement increases.
How might we give frequent readers the content that matter most to them so that they frequent the app more often. Moreover, how might be add features so that it meets their time-constrained new consumption habits?
NYT offers a diverse range of “enterprise content” on their mobile app, such as crosswords and recipes, however people are not aware of this. We want to showcase NYT’s diversity by rearranging their existing content based on location, interest and news consumption habits. We believe by doing this the NYT will be more relatable to these readers, in turn increasing engagement on the mobile app. We also believe that increasing engagement on the mobile app will result in converting frequent readers into subscribers.
People prepared to pay for news if its valuable, convenient and relevant. NYT has a lot of diverse content, but it needs to feel personalized and be optimized according to reader habits for it’s value to be more apparent.
Visibility: Make content more personalized i.e. expose them to content that they might be interested in.
Flexible: Optimize the experience by catering to reader’s habits for consumption of media.
Speed: Make the content more accessible and easy to digest.
User Flow and Wireframing
Before we started sketching the wireframes, we created a user flow of how the newly redesigned features would connect with each other and how the users would navigate and use them.
We then did two rounds of wireframing on paper and digitally to arrive at our solution. We also tested with our paper prototypes and made iterations to our solution.
Feature #1: Easy and well defined navigation
Currently on NYT’s app, there is no defined navigation. You can only use a hamburger menu to browse through categories, other options are hard to access. We added a bottom navigation with tabs to make different options visible at all times and accessible with one hand. For the navigation we added clearly labelled tabs for home, categories, bookmarks and settings. We also added a section for search on top so that users can access content they are interested in faster.
Feature #2: For the love of daily briefing
Users get access to the daily briefing straight on top of their homepage. There is a carousel through which they can quickly get up to date on the latest news of the day. Currently on the NYT app users sometimes see the briefing and sometimes they don’t. They also have to click on the block to read through the content. This feature not only reduces a click but also reduces redundancy in content on the homepage.
Feature #3: Choose categories of interest
To make the content more relatable and personalized for the readers, users can select categories that they would like to see on their homepage. This ensures that everyone finds content beyond just politics on the app. The breakdown of the content blocks would be something similar to this:
The users can go to the Categories tab to select their choice of topics.
When they read enough stories from a specific category that is not in their selected categories, they receive a pop up to add it their selected categories.
Feature #4: Accommodating to their habits
Reuters Digital News Report 2017 revealed that the top three locations to consume news were in bed, bathroom and while commuting. For that reason we added an option to toggle to night mode. Users can either set this automatically for each day or toggle manually when they want.
Our research also suggested that people have different modes of consuming media, while some like to only scroll homepage to be up to date, others like to read full articles or listen to articles instead. For that reason the homepage can be customized according to user’s preference. There are three different layouts to choose from: classic, cosy and compact.
Catering to those different consumption habits and trends, we also included an audio option.
Feature #5: Onboarding for easy access
To make the features above clear to the user, there is a simple onboarding experience that introduces the user to the new features and gives them the option to edit those options right away. Different options that can be set include layout, categories and notification preference.
What I Learnt
It made me realize that simple solutions can cause high impact as well.
Storyboarding and user flowcharts to visualize idea.
Different forms of research methods: interviews, surveys and desk research.
Sketching and testing paper prototypes.