The LA Times was always a dream job of mine. I love the idea of helping people better understand the world around them. When I was brought on, I was tasked with redesigning the mobile app. Not only would this redesign be applied to the LA Times but also several other news outlets owned by Tribune Publishing, such as the Chicago Tribune and the Hartford Courant.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was engagement. Not only was time in app in a bad spot, but the reviews in the app store were hovering around 2 stars.
First step in any redesign is taking stock of what is working and what is not. Analytics told us that people would read an article, skim through a few headlines and exit. photo and video stories, which had a high ad revenue value were almost completely skipped over. The good news was that the same articles tested better on desktop with higher engagement.
It was clear that the articles needed to be more engaging and an easy way to transition from one story to the next. Also we really needed a way to showcase the content better
This user spends between 60-90 minutes on public transportation Monday through Friday. This is there primary time to catch up on emails, check social profiles and read news. This user primary focus is to be informed and tends to be more of an advanced user. Topics they are interested in tend to be world news, local news, business, and sports. They are not likely to follow a push notification into the app unless it is a major news event.
This user strives to be informed on a range of topics that will most certainly include world news, breaking news and 2-3 other topics of interest. The will be checking the app with a frequency of 10-12 times per day and expects to find new stories each time. They are also likely to want push notifications and will follow the notification into the app.
This user tends to use the app more when the have time to kill, be it standing in line, waiting for something or just bored. Sections of interest tend to be more of local nature and events that will affect them personally. They are not likely to follow a push notification into the app unless it is a major news event.
The existing flow was focused on the the user scrolling a new section with a list of articles, selecting an article, then returning to the section list to find the next article the wanted to read. While this gave the user a way to pick an article and then return to select another one. There was not a sense of discovery or any use of real gesture control
I created wires based on a hypothesis that exposing the navigation on the top of the screen and allowing for side scrolling would allow for an easier experience than opening a menu and finding another section. We also would test this on the article page. Allowing a user to side scroll from one story to another. The new navigation tested great and it was on to creating a better showcase for our content.
We knew images always had a longer engagement than just a headline. We took the images and made them 75% of the screen. Any photo-heavy or video articles we used the full screen to display imagery. . We tested a few visual designs and ended on what you see below. The end result was increased engagement and time in app when up. This rise was even more significant on the video and photo articles.