As we already came to an end of the first Sprint, it is worthwhile to sketch out what we have done so far. Starting from the first week, our team was faced to tackle the following question:
‘With what means can De Persgroep use their content and (interaction) design in such a way that they can build a sustainable relationship with their audiences, specifically the younger group called ‘millennials’?
Point of departure was to get to know the “millennials” which also concerns “us” as being part of it. Deriving from a literature review we conducted, we categorized “millennials” into four groups based on their reading habits regarding news and age: unattached and explorers (18-24), and distracted and activists (25-34).
As our project deals with seducing the reader to read on, we thought it would be essential to delineate what it means to build a sustainable relationship. We operationalized sustainable relationship in terms of the ways the communication is achieved between an online newspaper and an online audience. Following a definition of such relationship, we formulated our research question:
How to build a sustainable relationship with one time article readers of online newspapers (18 – 35 years old) coming from social media platforms?
Because of our expertise in the field of New Media we believe we can best contribute to the field of news publishing and the problem proposed by the Persgroep in particular by investigating the possible potentials of the structure, design, layout, and UX / UI of the news medium; rather than aiming to improve PR, marketing, or editorial content which are also aspects of maintaining a relationship. The prominence of our research therefore lies in exploring the possible and applicable features, so we came up with the sub-questions mentioned below as:
- In what ways can the user experience of newspaper article readers on mobile devices be improved?
- To what extent can the design layout of the news articles enhance readers’ engagement?
With an attempt to find out alternatives for the design layout of news articles to enhance readers’ engagement, we conducted a cross-country research where the top four daily to weekly newspapers from Germany, UK and US, Turkey, Spain and The Netherlands (i.e. the four most important titles from the Persgroup) were analyzed. Carrying out a thorough analysis allowed us to determine certain aspects of the Persgroep newspapers -namely, De Volkskrant, Trouw, AD, and Het Parool- to be improved or maintained. We figured out that the titles from the Persgroep need to improve in various elements such as the use of inline links, comment section, and interactive horizontal content. The bar graph shows the performance of each newspaper on a scale from 0 to 2; 0 equals “no performance” whereas 1 equals “basic performance/not good enough” and 2 equals “good performance”.
Focusing on the mobile websites and article pages, in this process, all team members specified the most interesting and inspiring features, functions, and design elements throughout traditional and other alternative media sites. As a result, we came up with recommendations that are advisable to apply when communicating with millennials. The pie graphs indicate various features that stand out throughout the alternative media sites (grey part shows the percentage of unused feature).
These recommendations include the design of more interactive, personalized, and intuitive mobile websites as our literary research suggests that these elements may positively impact the value of the relationship attained with the young readers. However, we thought that asking the readers directly is a possible way to find out in more detail what makes them engage with the online content, and not exercise a manner of ‘hit&run’. Therefore, we placed our interest on constructing questions for a survey concerning demographics, reading habits, general social online behavior, design preferences, and their willingness to pay.
During the next sprint, we will be working on collecting data through our survey. The survey will be translated in different languages -Dutch, Spanish, German, and Turkish- and distributed through social media. This will allow us to reach a wider audience and receive actual feedback from the readers that predominantly come from social media.
We will keep you updated. See you next time!
If you want to know more about our findings, you can check the attached file which is the shortened version of our presentation to Persgroep: Persgroep Presentation