Newsification

Newsification is a mobile app I designed for the NYC Media Lab Hearst Corporation Fellows Challenge. My goal as a Hearst Fellow was  to create a prototype of a new mobile media application that expressed the idea of content personalization. I worked periodically with Hearst executives to refine and progress my prototype over the course of an eight week period, culminating in a final presentation to Hearst management.

As a Fellow, my first task was to outline my current media consumption and what I would like my consumption to be like:

1. Personal social media consumption — what I consume and how I consume it

  • I currently consume media via an app, Feedly, that allows me to specify which blogs I want to follow—personal curation.
  • Emails from Wakefield
  • Really like Medium 
  • Don't use Twitter for news, I don’t like a ton of notifications
  • Sometimes I go directly to websites, but honestly, if I don’t add a site to my Feedly, it’s very likely that I’ll forget the website and won’t visit again unless I’m reintroduced
  • Consistently downloading new apps to help me discover new sites and outlets, like Issu and Zite

2. What I wish my media consumption could look like?

  • I wish there was a way to receive content each morning that I could read while commuting on the subway. By the time I get on the train its too late to load articles. I wish articles could automatically pre-load before I'm underground.
  • I wish that when I arrived at work/school, I could get 10-15 articles that were relevant to my work, for inspiration or just chatting at the water cooler-- bring the content to me, rather than me having to remember to check my apps
  • When new restaurants open up in my neighborhood, I want to be informed. When I visit other neighborhoods I want content related to that area

3.  What I'm interested in exploring?

  • Offline reading
  • The right content at the right time in the right place -- articles related to work, when you arrive at work; articles related to health and fitness, when you arrive at the gym
  • Location based content related to entertainment, dining, history   
  • How to give the user control over what content they see, beyond selecting the sources

Sketches

Feedback

After speaking with others about their media consumption and discussing with the Hearst team, this is the feedback I received:

Provide a "Breaking News" category 

Clustering the topics so that they're related in some way

Suggest other topics based on user interests

Sorting articles based on something or a rating; help users access the most valuable content if they have a short time to devote to reading

Location/Geofence: detect more general locations like "coffee shops" and send relevant content 

Mockups

Prototype

The Invision prototype for Newsification can be viewed here

Key Takeaways

I learned a ton throughout my fellowship including but not limited to the following:

  • The value of sharing my work
    • I received some amazing feedback (positive and constructive) from user testing, my peers, and the Hearst team. Giving consideration to the different ideas that people posed really helped shape the Newsification experience and concept and allowed me to be more thoughtful about each feature. After seeing how my product changed from my initial idea to the final prototype, I will definitely work to make sure I get more eyes on my work, more often. 
  • The importance of focusing on the experience 
    • As a UX designer, this seems obvious, but it can be the tie breaker when choosing between multiple concepts. My goal for Newsification was to deliver the right content at the right time and as long as I made decisions based on this, then I think I stood by the user I was designing for. I know every decision wasn't the right one, which leads me to my next point. 
  • The importance of iterating
    • Having creative control can be a gift and curse. The curse is that you have to make a lot of decisions on your own and then find out what others think via testing and critiques. I made decisions and tradeoffs based on what I thought best accomplished the goal of the product, but I wasn't always right. I can't always know what's right, but if I show it to others and use their feedback to make thoughtful changes, then my mistakes weren't in vain.