A Guerrilla approach to Content in News Apps 2.0: InShorts

Part 2 in a series of radical news reading experiences: How to hold the reader


Looking at the ideas and research from Part 1 and creating a user profile and assessing their needs.

So, the first part of the idea behind the content was primarily research and idea-shaping on how the users could be engaged and a contemporary approach to new apps. The change that was considered was based on the transition from ‘fact reporting’ to the formation of a bed-rock of discussion, debates and conversations. Not just facts(there is no exam, right?).

A rugged picture of the ideas for part 1

So, the primary motif being clear and utilitarian agenda being understood, we can now focus on the non-functional part of the Content strategy of Inshorts.

Note: The user profile is based on 1 other app as well.

The purview of this piece would deal with 3 major things:

  1. A user profile, based on the interviews conducted and demographics considered.
  2. Needs, priorities and their solutions.
  3. Some uncanny ideas left out in Part 1.

User profile:

Say hello to Ashutosh.

Ashutosh is a grad student.

“Something different from the social crap. Riveting, maybe? I’d like to increase my knowledge or vocab or just talk about something with colleagues. Also, more positive news would help.”

Ashutosh is a grad student, music-enthusiast and a news app user. The profile was perfect for analysis as he is both an outlier and a constituent in the regular demographic (considering his interests in manga, memes as well as politics and technology).

Simple assessment of Ashutosh’s characteristics

Now, Ashutosh’s interests and his needs might create a further pathway to look at a generic user’s feed and needs in the news app, as well as enable us to adjudge, what kind of news does an anomalous prospect want.

Ashutosh has 4 important needs:

  • interest oriented news in his personal feed — Ashu looks at the app as a tool to read about the things he wants to know about or wants to learn about. He seldom cares or finds relevance in reading about history, glam or trade.
  • organization in the layout — He feels that during commute he tends to skip cards in a haphazard way whenever he ‘feels’ the article is ‘boring’. This behavior, though subconscious, results in missing out on interesting or important articles for him.
  • social aspect — The repetition on different articles on different social feeds as well as news apps makes for an annoying experience for him.
  • explore! — This is a strong indication of the profile(more on this, later). The idea of learning or exploring something new, gives a break from the scrolling.

Okay, so now we had a look at Ashutosh’s needs. His needs are the common denominator of at least a significant 70% of the people I’ve interviewed. Let’s figure out the content ideas.

How can I resolve this??

Needs and their solutions

So, the needs are set and locked. I’ll narrow the scope of the needs with the possible solutions:

Feed Interests:

The first need related to the requisite content placement and presentation to users based on their interests. Possible solutions:

  • Since the ‘interest’ quotient is a big thing here, the first thing to do would be to know the interests of the user. Something on the lines of asking the user about the topics he’d like to read news about.
  • Since the interests might not align with the major news of the day, retention of the major articles is paramount to keep the user up-to-date with the information around the globe. The primary feed would consist of the interests strung together with the major shorts.


  • The presentation of articles in a different way (possible change in design).
  • Grouping of the articles according to segments. This could involve startig and ending points of a particular segment. Could also feature tags.
  • Charting the usage of different users and presenting content based on extrapolations of the stats considered while assessing the users(this step involves studying patterns in the usage and the time spent on the app). A quick reader, a leisure scroll-er or an intensive reader who follows news articles have different reading patterns.


  • Repetition of articles which have a strong presence on different social networks should be avoided (this has been mentioned in some reviews over the playstore as well).
  • Avoiding viral-quotient in regular news unless it really is unique and provides for a fun read.
  • Notifying the user of the end of the latest news based on the day or week.


This would be perhaps a radical idea, but is intriguing as well. Considering that the younger, demographic is always on the chart to learn something new, unique and perhaps enhance his overall knowledge through something as innocuous and subtle as a news app. This new ideology gives way to consider that the regular readers and the targeted demographic of InShorts might relish the fact that the app provides an opportunity to learn something new.

A surprise ‘card’ between any news shorts which would jolt the reader and perhaps amuse him. This feature has enabled sites like StumbleUpon, Soundcloud, Pandora and other biggies to leverage the uncertainty into a delight or perhaps a jovial discovery.

New topics, completely baffling articulations might work in this regard.

Uncanny ideas

Now that requisite ideas, needs and solutions are taken care of, it’s time to bring the uncanny ideas thrown around and discussed by the interviewees and me. Although deviant and irrelevant, some of these ideas miiight(that’s a big ‘might’) be great in retrospect. Just to provide a gist of the user’s thinking and suggestions for a news app. Here they are:

“I would love to have a poll type thing under every article. Like what people think, what are the other informed opinions. They might know something I don’t.”

Decent idea but might not relate to the crisp article approach (shorts) of Inshorts. This could pan out to a different segment all together, for intensive readers.

“Social aspect. Relate the news to my followers, people I am following, my location. What is the direct relation to us as a reader?”

Geo-location relevance and the relation to the user’s interests and news. A tagged approach to articles, where every article is tagged accordingly.

“A news app in my opinion should be more like to the point and short, the content should be high on vocab and an inbuilt dictionary is a good idea maybe.”

Might differ again from the fundamental idea behind Inshorts.

It can just be like complete news dose package in one that ways. You get to read useful content without wasting your time in reading long articles, you get to increase your vocabulary, you get to know various opinions from the comment section. What else do you need? This is parallel to the intensive reader mindset.

“More exploratory approach! Tell me some news about interesting things I don’t know about.”

The idea which might differentiate from the swathes of Apps present on the market. Something that jerks you off the routine scroll, makes you think and wonder — “Okay, I didn’t know that.” This could be accompanies by a design feature, which actually provides the break in monotony and makes the user look forward to it again.

I suppose this is all an experience should be about. Be it related to content or design. Something which involves the user. A content-based stimuli to usher the user to ‘stay informed’, not just facts.

*I don’t work for Inshorts*. This article is just a curious guy trying to ascertain content-based innovations in the digital medium. I am exploring how I could make it better through research and thinking through a readers perspective.