After you’ve explored ideas and evaluated your research results, these are good ways to sharpen your product idea before launch.

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Editor’s Note: This is part 3 in a series of posts outlining the Lenfest Lab’s step-by-step approach to UX research through the lens of our next project with The Philadelphia Inquirer about scaling reliable hyperlocal coverage.

Don’t Forget! Steps 1 & 2: Explore and Evaluate

Before you can start the evaluation phase of your user experience research, you first need to explore lots of concepts, browse your competition and then process all of that information together as a team. These are important steps to take in order to make sure you’re building something people will eventually want and that you’re not building something that already exists. …


How to sift through your research and pull out the right information and insights to guide your process.

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Editor’s Note: This is part 2 in a series of posts outlining the Lenfest Lab’s step-by-step approach to UX research through the lens of our next project with The Philadelphia Inquirer about scaling reliable hyperlocal coverage.

Evaluate, sure. But first, Explore.

Before you can start the evaluation phase of your user experience research, you first need to explore lots of concepts related to your product idea and browse around at what your competitors are doing. This helps make sure you’re building something people will eventually want and also makes sure that you don’t build something that already exists. …


How to get started with your research—with tools that help you first get to know your audience and your competition.

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Editor’s Note: This is part 1 in a series of posts outlining the Lenfest Lab’s step-by-step approach to UX research through the lens of our next project with The Philadelphia Inquirer about scaling reliable hyperlocal coverage.

One of the many new roles that exist in newsrooms today is a user experience designer. A UX designer is important because they help news organizations observe and investigate their reader’s needs and wants, and those insights often help strengthen the organization’s products and their business. In our lab, UX research takes the form of user interviews, surveys, ranking exercises, competitive analysis and more. …


The methods we’ve used to guide our thinking and tips on when to use them.

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Research lays the foundation for product development because it’s important to get to know your audience before making something for them. It’s also important to have potential audience members provide feedback on product features before you finalize them if you want to increase your chances of success. We’ve launched a handful of experiments this year in the Lab and used a wide range of light-touch user experience research techniques to guide our thinking. We’re sharing our “toolkit” as an easy guide for teams who want to deepen their UX research practice.

An introduction to our “toolkit”

There are many user research methods that can be used for a project, but depending on its scope, timing, and budget, some methods may be better than the others. In our lab, for example, we are satisfied with interviewing 30 people to explore a concept or running usability tests with 10 to 15 users before launching an experiment because the risk is low and our timeframes are tight. Even on a small scale though, we get enough information from potential users to continue with our experiments. …


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Keeping with our commitment to share our work and be transparent while we experiment, we’re making all of the design assets for our latest experiment, a local restaurant review app, open and available for anyone to reference or re-use.

This style guide includes the app’s color palette, fonts, graphics, and icons. It’s also available on Github. Here is a guide to what you’ll find there.

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Style guide for the app.

Color palette and fonts

We started out by taking a look at three potential approaches to the color palette and fonts for the app: one would closely resemble The Philadelphia Inquirer’s existing style; one would combine elements of the Inquirer’s style with some new elements; one would use colors and fonts that were distinct from the Inquirer. …


Five simple research and prototyping tools we used to reimagine how locals find the best of what’s around them.

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Paper prototypes used in our research.

Ideas for our projects in the Lenfest Local Lab typically come from a few sources — journalists, collaborators, the industry and sometimes ourselves. For this app, it was a combination.

We thought about building a local restaurant review product early on but we weren’t capable of it yet. Once we were fully staffed and launched the HERE app — which highlights local news stories about your location — the project was starting to feel within reach. It was around that time people also started asking us:

“Why don’t you build an app for local restaurant reviews?”

Things were starting to fall into place but we also knew we would have to consider a lot more elements of the user experience this time, including people’s food preferences and the best planning features to offer. We also wanted to expand the geographic area of the app out into the suburbs. …


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Keeping our commitment to sharing our work and being transparent while we experiment, we wanted to make all of the HERE for Local Journalism app design assets open and available for anyone to reference or re-use.

I’ve created a style guide which includes the app’s color palette, fonts, graphics, and icons. It’s all available on Github and below is a guide to what you’ll find there.

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Style guide for the HERE app.

Color palette and fonts

The app’s color palette and the fonts are casual and lively and include warm colors. We wanted the look and feel to truly reflect the vibrant style of local arts, architecture, and real estate news. The colors we chose gave us a broad range of options to choose from to differentiate between various content and features in the app. We thought that having that flexibility would make it easier for us to update the app later if we added new types of stories. …


Our four-step process for moving from pen & pencil sketches to complete product design for our location-aware local news app.

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Author’s note: Last month I wrote about how I kicked off my first design project in the Lenfest Local Lab with research and analysis for an app that lets local news find you in Philadelphia. Give it a read now, or skip ahead to read about the second phase of our UX design process.

After research, how we dove into design

A common user experience design process involves moving through three broad phases — (I) research and analysis, (II) design, development and testing and (III) launch and iteration. …


A first look at our user-focused approach to scoping and building new experimental local news products.

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Philadelphia Skyline photo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Editor’s note: As part of our effort to be open and transparent about the full process of news product innovation — and not just the results — we’ll publish pieces here about how we approach projects and iterate on our plans before we launch experiments. We hope this peek into our process is useful for other teams wanting to experiment, and we’d appreciate your feedback on this idea.

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Faye Teng, UX Designer, Lenfest Local Lab

I joined the Lenfest Local Lab as a UX designer in mid-August right after graduating from Drexel University’s Interactive Digital Media program in Philadelphia. The first project I began working on with the lab team is a location-aware app to send related news notifications based on where people are. …

About

Faye Teng

UX Designer at Lenfest Local Lab for Lenfest Institute of Journalism. Drexel University class of 2018.

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