Creating a news app- Sum News

Let’s think about would you find out what’s happening around the world in your daily life. Is it through traditional media like newspaper, radio and television or new media like Facebook and Twitter? But were all the information concise and straight to the point?

Sum News is an app that summaries the news article for you so that you can do more things in that same amount of time you have! This app will also know what your preferences are and show you what you want to see instead of you scrolling through every single article to find what you want to read.

Following is the process that helped to create Sum News.

User Research

In order to find what’s the pattern or lifestyle of how people know what’s happening around them; the latest news, interviews were conducted. In total, 4 participants were interviewed.

I wanted to know what’s their behavior when they read news, like where they would get their information from, if mostly were from traditional media like newspaper, radio and television or the internet. From there, I could determine if having a mobile app will actually be what the user required.

A sample of questions that were asked during interview:-

–When was it?

–How do you know about it?

–When do you spend time read news on __(based on their previous ans)?

–What kind of information/graphics will catch your attention?

–Describe what kind of news would interest you.

–Describe an instance when you stopped reading the news article/ watching news.

–When your friends’ postings of news on social media, would you pay special attention to it?

The results from the interview was positive and users preferred reading news on their mobile device while they are on-the-go, and during their free time. Now that I understand that most people read news on their mobile and usually on social media, I established that the targeted audience are people who uses social media on their mobile and know news from there. And I carried out interviews with questions that are more targeted subsequently.

Synthesis of Data

Affinity Mapping

After gathering the data, I realised that most of the information that I have is mostly their behaviour. I re looked at the interviews and wrote down the main observations on the post-its. Each participant had their designated colour of post-it, this helps to differentiate the participants and also helped with the grouping.

I manage to group the key findings into 4 categories with the Affinity Map. Following are the categories of the key findings.

Affinity Mapping
  1. I read news on my mobile device during my free time.
  2. My social media account plays a part in what kind of news I read or are exposed to me.
  3. I prefer short & concise news, so that I can know the gist in the shortest time and in the most impactful way.

4. I want to be informed on the topics that I am interested in.

Looking at the 4 observations, I realised that only 1 of them seemed like a problem to me, thus naturally that became my problem statement. The rest of the sentences became a part of my solution as these statements described how the users behave. Therefore, I decided to integrate my solution into the users’ daily life, so the other 3 sentences became guidelines to my solution.

Problem statement: News articles are long with excessive information.

And the proposed solution to this problem is as follows.

Solution statement: Based on users’ preference collected from social media, a mobile app will be designed to summaries news they are interested in.

User Flow

After having the solution statement and also the guidelines from the findings, I had to design the the user flow of the app. Since the users would use the app during their free time as a way to spend their free time, which is limited, having a clean and simple app which serve the purpose of summarizing articles seem to be the answer.

Based on the finding “I want to be informed on the topics that I am interested in.” and “My social media account plays a part in what kind of news I read or are exposed to me.” I figured that having an app that knows what the user like and showing what they want to see once they open the app would save the their time. This would save them the time and trouble to scroll through articles that does not suit their preference. What would be better than the data that is already available from their frequent use of social media. Therefore, this app will be using the analytics from their social media and user would not need to key in their preferences. Of course, they will also be able to view news that are of different genre within the app.

I also remember from 1 of the interviews that the user would like to share and read what others felt about the article. This way, he will be able to gain insights from others also. He will also be able to share his views on the topic.

From those thoughts, following is the user flow that was created.

Following user flows are optional depending on what the user wants to achieve.

Wireframes

After having the flow of the app, I proceed to create the look of the app. Based on the thought of creating a clean and simple app, I drew the initial wireframes on the paper.

Based on my research, I understand that my users prefer something that is more visually impactful like image or video besides wanting news to be concise. So I had the image of the article being in the middle so that this will catch their attention in the first place and then under that image will be the title and summary of the article. If the user wanted even more information from the article after reading the summary, the user may select “read more” which will link to the news provider’s webpage with the full article.

To make it easier for the users to share and comment on the news, I added the “share” button under each article.

Wireframes

Prototyping

After doing wireframes on the paper, now with an idea of how the app would look like I proceed to do the prototyping on InVision. I gathered images and did their placement on Powerpoint as I am unfamiliar with other design softwares. A dark background and white wordings was chosen for easier reading.

https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/F6BVSZYW9#/screens

Future Considerations

  1. As the current app’s categorisation of genre of news is still quite broad, sub categories can be added to the current categories. For example, adding sub-categories “Asia”, “China”, “America” to “World”. This will help users to better identify the news they want. However, this will also depend further user research that will be carried out so as to better identify their needs.
  2. Current app depends heavily on the analytics on their social media, so they are not able to add news from other categories to their preference within the app. The analytic will not be able to pick up what the user would want to read within the app as there isn’t a “like” button to notify the app. A further exploration may be to add a button on all genre of news, excluding “preference” page, that will allow user to add that news to their preferences. However, this too require further user research.

Final thoughts

Having an app which understands what the user wants needs their inputs. If I am given more time to work on this project, I wish I could have more inputs from the users as what I have done this time was just barely speaking with the users and work on the general idea of the app. I was unable to show them the prototype and gather their feedback. I believe this will definitely help to better the app and make it more relatable and useful for the user.

I also learnt that it may be difficult to find problems from the user’s answers during the interview. This is due to different users having different preference and view of different matter and also the users are so familiar with what they are using currently and are not know what else can be their solution. I have thought that the reason of users not using other apps other than their social media for news reading is due to there isn’t other apps out there that has information from different sources, but I was not able to verify that.

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