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I worked with The Times & The Sunday Times to redesign and rebuild their Android app with the primary goal of improving user experience and increase engagement.
We began the project working alongside the team at IDEO to understand findings surfaced during a consumer research project exploring the future of the web and smartphone platforms in news consumption in the UK.
As primary designer of the Android app, I worked with the UX team, editorial design team and journalists to understand the industry and the process of taking a news story from the moment to the printed paper.
CONSUMER INTERVIEWS, SURVEYS & ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH
IDEO interviewed 70+ stakeholders and surveyed 275 customers to identify patterns in consumer needs, behaviours and preferences. This helped us to define the primary user stories for the application and initial information architecture.
CONTINUOUS RESEARCH & USABILITY TESTING
We conducted consumer interviews and usability tests every two weeks. These in-house sessions provided usability insights from week 2 of the redesign. Throughout the project, we continually prioritised product development priorities based on usability insights and consumer feedback.
03 BRAND IDENTITY
The Times newspaper was founded in 1785 and has since become a well-known British and international brand. It was therefore important that the brand was reflected consistently across both print and digital products.
To ensure legibility The Times & The Sunday Times commissioned a new font optimised for use on digital platforms. The editorial design team used the new font collection to define the digital design system for use across all daily edition and supplement article types.
For decades, sections of The Times & The Sunday Times have been marked with specific colours to help readers to find the section they're looking for. We initially decided to use those same colours to represent the sections in the app too. However, this created a challenge when we checked the colour contrast against accessibility standards and found that the existing scheme didn’t meet those standards. It was a tough call to make to alter a beloved brand but The Times & The Sunday Times were committed to meeting the W3C accessibility guidelines and we were able to deliver an ideal solution, bringing their app in line with contemporary best practice while preserving brand integrity.
COPY & FORMATTING
The article formatting guidelines we established ensure that date formats, attribution, quote style and layout are consistent across all digital formats and article types.
The visual design and interactive experiences for Android were created using material design patterns in line with The Times & The Sunday Times visual style guides. Each screen was carefully adapted for use across mobile and tablet devices.
During the initial research phase, we found that behaviours of subscribers varied between those who prefer to read 'front to back', reading one article at a time and those who prefer to jump between sections inline with their interests or favourite supplements & magazines.
To meet both of these use cases, we allowed users to navigate sections and supplements with colour-coded tab navigation and also designed the ability to scroll from one article to the next sequentially.
There were 21 different types of article groups or 'slices' that could be added by the editors. Each layout was custom designed for the Android platform across device types.
We worked closely with editors and readers to optimise article layouts and improve readability.
We designed each of the individual components across device formats for optimal display of headlines, article information, body text, quotes, images, videos and media.
We added the ability for readers to favourite articles to come back to later or share with friends.
PAST 6 DAYS
When speaking with readers, we found that often, they wanted to refer back to an article they had read on a previous day.
As well as offering the ability to save an article for 30 days, we also provided them with the option to read full editions from the previous six days.
DESIGNING FOR INCLUSIVITY
Inclusivity was key when designing this application. As well as considering colour contrast, text legibility and line length, colour blindness, non-touch interaction and offline usage, we also introduced text resizing in-app and screen-reader support to improve the experience for readers with visual impairments.
Find out more in my talk 'Designing for Accessibility' at Droidcon, Berlin.
The release of the new Android application saw:
The average Play Store rating reach 4.4 stars (previously 2.8)
The average articles read per visit reach 6 (previously 2.5)
A 15% increase in user satisfaction score
A 32% increase in monthly active users