Insights on news design

HH and UI/UX meet pics

Hacks/Hackers New Delhi held its third event a few days ago with the UI/UX meetup group in Delhi.  Official blog post forthcoming, but a few key points I took away:

  • There are no beautifully designed news sites in India.  Really.  We conducted an unofficial audience poll.  One attendee summed up his experience with Indian news sites with the word: “crappy.”
  • Why are they crappy? The notion of user experience is not built into design.  Advertising and biz heads decide what ads they can sell, edit snatches up the rest, and no one asks users what they actually want to look at.
  • There is an ad revenue optimization point where you have just enough ads to make maximum money with minimum user turnoff.  We in India err on the side of far too many ads.
  • Why are news sites so hard to design well? They handle, on an avg day, 200 new pieces of content. The “splash” screen of the average page (equivalent to the space of a newspaper that lies “above the fold”) is about 500 px high.
  • Users want personalized content on their mobiles. They want to choose their news.
  • Direct homepage traffic is a thing of the past.
  • USAToday managed, with their site redesign, to create new inventory spaces where they could sell ads.  More explanation of exactly how ground-breaking the USAToday site was in this article.
  • UX is the end product
  • Responsive design is a multi-platform content strategy. I always heard that you design for responsive by marking your content in “priority” categories.  Priority 1 will display on all screens. Priority 1 & 2 will show on slightly larger screens…and so on for as long as you like. BUT. Big caveat. Don’t overcrowd your big screens.  Fluidity is key.
  • You do not always need a responsive design. Do your mobile use cases match your desktop use cases? Then go responsive. Otherwise don’t.
  • “Redesigns” are usually the result of a biz head who needs to justify his salary. They aren’t always necessary. Always ask the users.
  • CASE STUDY: Why didn’t users like the redesign? BC that audience (finance people, traders) wants fast information and sudden redesigns will slow them down. In that instance, an iterative redesign would have been far better.

I think this post is what they mean by “burning the midnight oil.”

Photo courtesy of Rudi MK, who turned photog for the H/H New Delhi meet.

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