My first assignment was to work on a news application. To do that, I need to understand the user behaviours regarding news and discover their pain points and offer a solution.

Interview Questions

For me, I only check the news when I remember to or when there is a major news that everyone is talking about. When I do check on the news, it’s usually via the Channel News Asia App (CNA) and I typically glance through the headlines to fish out topics that interest me. Naturally, I dived in to “review” the CNA App to find problems with it. But it dawned on me subsequently that it was a hasty decision to narrow down the potential problems so quickly and generate interviews based on the problems identified in the App.

Hence, I drafted the following questions and recorded the interview with 7 people to have bigger picture.

Here are the interview questions:

a. How are you informed of news?

b. How frequently do you read news?

c. Where do you read news?

d. Why do you read the news?

e. What topics are you interested in and why?

f. What do you do when you read something interesting?

g. How much time do you spend on news?

h. Is there a preferred medium of choice to read news and why?

i. What do you with the information obtained from the news?

j. A negative experience in using your medium of choice?

k. A positive experience in using your medium of choice?

Notes taken from the interview :

Some quotes from the interviewees which, to me, reflected their behaviour:

“If it is important enough, somehow I will know about it.”
“ Word of mouth”

What I have learned so far in the interviewing process was that people do not necessary give you the answers directly. You need to be patient to listen to their story and find the reasons. The reasons for their actions may not be apparent at all. Sometimes, they may not understand your questions and you will need to spend some time to re-phrase/ re-construct your questions. I feel that the choice of words does have an effect on the answers, the interviewee may interpret it differently. Hence, it is good to stick to same phrasing for all the interviewees.

Affinity Map

Affinity map using Trello

My take after organising the information from the interview was :

  1. Social media is a convenient way for users to get news.
  2. They mostly access information via their mobile devices, using Apps to get news.
  3. If the news is interesting or if they feel it concerns someone they know, they will share it via social media or message them the link to read the news.
  4. Everyone has different threshold on things they don’t like in an App. Even if they don’t like certain features or feel that certain feature is lacking, they may make do and continue using the App. (Perhaps, a different way to make customising news easier?)
  5. Notifications from News Apps on breaking news may not be really be of interest or important to the users.
  6. There is desire to verify authenticity of the news and to read news from a different angle. They will check the news via different sources to compare the same news reported. To filter the information from biased write-ups and make their own judgement.

Based on the user interviews, the majority are passive recipients of news most of the time and they rely on the surrounding people to feed them news — news that they maybe interested due to the same social circle or news that are indeed ground breaking. Also, they want trustworthy news.

Problem / Opportunity Statement

People want to have relevant news fed to them quickly as they only check when they are free. They also rely on friends to share with them interesting or major news in this way, they also do not need to actively check the news everyday.

Proposed solution

To develop an App that would make filtering news more convenient for the users. The news they received are more personalised and tailored to them. In addition, allows them to explore news that they could be interested in based on the news their friends have been reading on.

We could do that by tapping on to the information that the social media already has of the users, their friends and family members. Hence, the App feed news to the users that is more relevant to them via tracking of the social media activities and their browsing habits. For instance, if the user has been commenting or posting a lot on housing matters, it could feed the user latest news on local housing news or related news like financing/investing properties. Only news from established sources, like The Guardian, Channel News Asia, etc, will be fed to the users.

User flow

I imagined how a user would use the App to read the news as shown below.

User flow using Axure

I focused mainly on the movement of the user, logging in to the App and then how she/he moves on to read the news.

In retrospective, I feel that I should focus more on how to make the filtering of the news more intuitive. Thus, i should have thought about the user flow for the filtering option as well.

The Story

Jane (fictional character) spends her time reading Facebook updates in the morning on the way to work. She browses through her Facebook feeds to see updates on her friends and the news that they have posted on. She filters through all sorts of post to find something relevant for her to read. She taps onto the link and starts reading news from an unknown source. Jane’s interest grew and she decided to google the news from legitimate sources.

The storyboard where Jane starts to use the News App.

Wireframe/Prototype

Prior to actually making the prototype using Invision, I sketched out the idea of the App based on the user flow done earlier. It would have been great if I had more time to test out the App using the paper model, and find out the usability of the App and also to find out if it works in the intended way.

Click here for the link to the prototype and here for the link to the presentation.

Future Development

I feel that for this project, there are many more improvement possible. I will also need to research further on the other News App available to understand what works and what does not work.

The next step to take if this project continues :

1. Develop and show the the filtering option of the News App. To develop this aspect in the paper mockups before proceeding to do the prototype.

2. Explore the possibility to have the news feed sent to the user as a summary rather than the full article. Only if they wish to read further, they may opt to do so.

3. Develop the portion on allowing the user to access the links to different news sources so that they could read the news and verify the authenticity or have a different angle on the issue.

4. Since the idea of this project also revolves around utilising the social circle to filter news, perhaps, there is a need to show in the App the user’s friend(s) who have read the news article.

Summary

What I have learned from this project is to time manage more effectively. A lot of time was spent on the interviewing process and not enough time to research on the current solutions available so that I may improve on my idea.

I need to also set aside time to test out the idea with users and gather their feedback. This would help me in discovering if the idea could work or if there are other issues that I should also look into.

All in all, I look forward to improving further from this first project.

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