Personalized news to go

Creating an experience of convenience and trust

McClatchy supports a robust design thinking initiative. They host several workshops each year to teach employees creative problem-solving to tackle some of the industry's biggest issues. I participated in several workshops to improve my skills and to evangelize the importance of user-centered product development.

This particular challenge was a long-term study that focused on building trust with users who had become skeptical of news media. Our goal was to find new ways to establish trust between readers and newspaper journalists.

My role with the innovation team

We had a strong team, which included developers and marketing professionals. As the UX specialist and designer, I conducted 20+ user interviews, designed and managed a week-long diary study with The News & Observer, facilitated a follow-up focus group, mapped out discovery and engagement user journeys, designed and built the prototype, synthesized the data, and reported on the findings to stakeholders.

Challenges our users experience

We conducted several rounds of empathy interviews to learn more about how users discovered and consumed news content throughout the day.

This is what we learned:

  • Engaged news consumers will often read the same story on different news sites to get different perspectives on the reporting.
  • Users believe most news outlets are politically biased.
  • Most users feel their local newspaper is a trustworthy source
  • Most users are overwhelmed by the number of news outlets, and are unlikely to add another source to their routine.

To meet these challenges, we wanted to offer users a full in-depth story experience in a format that was engaging and convenient.

The idea we tested was an audible news app, which provided a daily list of news stories that were read and recorded so users could create a personalized newscast to play when they had time. To strengthen the trust relationship, we added an introduction from the journalists, so users could feel more confident about the source, without needing to verify the information.

The Prototype

We wanted to create an interface that engaged users with the day's stories and offered an easy way to personalize an audible playlist.

UX Highlights

  • Newsrooms would select between eight and ten stories to record. Users wanted the in-depth coverage that is expected with the written story.
  • Users would receive an email each morning letting them know today's list is ready.
  • Users select stories to add to their playlist by tapping or clicking on the hear icon.

Users expressed a desire to create a playlist that would fill the time of their morning commute, the time it takes to walk their dog or get ready for work.

  • As users select stories, the play button calculates the length of the newscast.
  • Users can select all, or clear all by tapping or clicking on the heart icon at the top of the page.
  • The time is recalculated with each interaction.

  • Users can click on the play button anytime to begin the newscast.
  • The active story displays as an open card so users can see where they are in the list.
  • Users can skip a story by tapping the icon on the bottom of the card.
  • The play button counts down the time as the newscast is played.

User Feedback

The feedback was very positive! Users immediately understood the concept, and gave examples of how they would use this product.

They liked that they were getting the in-depth story, and not a highlight as with other audible sources. Hearing the voice of the journalist made users feel more connected to the source. "The story feels more credible."

The next iteration will include deeper personalization features, so the initial list will reflect the user's interests. The concept is being considered for development.