January- March 2020
UI Design, UX Design, User Research, Branding
Sketch, Tumblr, Pinterest, Dribbble
Although news has the ability to inform the public and keep people up to date with current events, online news coverage can often feel overwhelming and inescapable. Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, many people have developed severe anxiety due to the spread of unreliable and fake news online. In order to solve this, I wanted to create a news app that provided unbiased news; allowing users to control what kind of news they see and monitor how long they spend in-app.
The main user group for this product would be young professionals, aged 20-35. This age group tends to use smart devices as their primary news source; whilst older age groups tend to get their news from newspapers and on television. Since smart devices already give these users the ability to track and manage things like their screen time, the functionality to track news intake should feel familiar.
I started off this project by looking at some of the most popular and similar competitors on the market; such as Apple News, BBC News and Flipboard. From here, I was able to identify some common strengths and weaknesses identified by its users. This helped me to figure out what kind of functionality would work well in my product; as well as my potential for a competitive edge.
In order to better understand my users’ wants and needs; I created a quick survey for people to fill out regarding the news.
From this, I wanted to find out the following information:
- Do the public find online news trustworthy?
- Are they open to reading news reported from a more unbiased viewpoint?
- Do they tend to pay for unbiased news?
- Do they trust that online news sources are unbiased?
From this survey, I found that the majority of respondents in my target market wanted to consume news online, the majority lacked trust in the accuracy or amount of bias from these sources.
Once I had completed my user research and established what kind of product I wanted to make, I began to think about what kind of functionality users should have. When thinking about this, I wanted to consider how a user might interact with these features throughout their journey.
I eventually settled on 4 main features that I thought would be most beneficial to my target audience:
- The ability to view trending news
- The ability to control what kind of news they see (e.g politics, sport, medical etc)
- The ability to search for certain stories
- The ability to monitor news consumption
This really helped to inform my lo fi sketches, as I had a much clearer impression of what features were needed to facilitate the user’s needs.
When coming up with a brand for my app, I was fairly undecided on how I wanted everything to look aesthetically. I started by looking on pinterest and Dribbble for examples of other news apps that designers had created in the past. I really liked the idea of a fairly stripped back and clean UI; as I didn’t want the design of the app to detract from the news itself. For legibility, I settled on Oswald and Roboto for my main body copy, whilst Merriweather would only be used for news captions.
I wanted the name of my project to quickly communicate to users that it was a different type of news app. I used the main aims of my app to brainstorm ideas for a potential name and visual mark. In the end, I came up with the name ‘The Digest’, as the app helped users to manage their news consumption. The visual mark for my project was a fairly simple zigzag shape which connected to the tail of the ‘t’ in ‘digest’ to create the impression of a digestive tract. This visual mark was also used in the bottom nav of the app for the ‘news consumption’ section of the experience.
Before working on this project, I didn't created a news app before. I feel that the design and flow of the application could have benefitted from some more thorough user research and user testing; as some of the sections could have been better situated elsewhere in the experience. I also think I could have looked at some more UX and UI best practices for news apps before diving into the design stage. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this project was unfortunately cut short, which meant that certain elements of the app lacked refinement.
Although there are things that I would change about my approach when creating this app, I feel that this project was really beneficial in improving my UI design skills. Although some things could have benefitted from being scaled down slightly, I think that the overall layout and look of the app was fairly clean. With regards to the UX- I think my app is definitely on the right track. With adjustments to user flows, I think this app could be a really clean experience. It would be great to revisit this particular project in the future to see where I could go with this.