The Art and Science of Learning from Data

Relying too much on statistics can be dangerous but it also can help you set a focus and make better decisions. This is what we have in mind when applying insights we gathered from our survey on Millennial news reading behavior. So what do we actually conclude from the analysis of the survey results ? But first a little recap of what the survey was about and how be structured it.

Constructing the survey

Based on the insights we gathered about Millennials and their online behaviour through the literary research we conducted in sprint 1, we constructed an online survey using Google forms. In this survey, we wanted to test the insights we gathered in sprint 1 and collect more detailed information about the online news reading habits of Millennials. As we defined in sprint 1, our main focus for this project and the task at hand is basically the improvement and a rethinking of the UI / UX of online newsarticles and news websites.  The questions we formulated for the survey therefore were aimed to retrieve information about roughly the following areas, all in relation to online news:

  • General news reading settings (Where/When/On which medium they you read the news)
  • General news related behaviour (Do they finish reading articles, do they have a subscription etc.)
  • General online behaviour (Do they share news articles on social media, do they read comments etc.)
  • UI/UX Design preferences (Preferences for use of images, fonts, colours etc.)

A more detailed report on our reasoning behind the survey and how we constructed it, can be found in the blogpost “Which type of news reader are you?”. Once published (8th of March), we left the survey open until the end of sprint two, thus until the 24th of March.

The survey results

We analysed the results divided into two age groups (18-24 and 25-34), based on a distinction made in a similar earlier research by the American Press Institute in 2015. We moreover contrasted the results from the Dutch survey with the combined results from the other survey language versions (Turkish, Spanish, English and German), because the prototype will mainly be designed for the Dutch audience. We were able to collect responses roughly evenly from male as well as female newsreaders and from both age groups:

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Based on the results we retrieved, we created a news reading profile for each of the respondents groups, summarizing the results. These types are thus:  the younger Dutch respondents (18-24), the older Dutch respondents (25-34), the younger non-Dutch respondents (18-24) and the older non-Dutch respondents (25-34).

The younger Dutch respondents (18-24)

The majority (86%) does follow the news, but they do not always finish reading the news articles they started. They generally prefer reading news articles from their smartphone (92%) or the desktop computer (71%) in the morning (74%) or in the afternoon (46%) while they are using public transportation (63%) or while they are at home (61%). They have a rather closed attitude towards traditional monetization models because they do not have a subscription to an online or print newspaper (88%) and also do not want to get one in the future (75%). Also pay-per-view is not a very good option for this group (81%).

The majority does not read or follow the news via alternative platforms such as Vice, Mashable or Mindshakes (66%).

The appearance of a news website is very important to this group and they prefer a clean and simple design with a white text background and a classic serif font. They moreover favour a balanced presence of multimedia and text in a news article.

Although active on social media, the majority does not share news articles on their social media platforms (74%). If they share, they do it mainly via Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. They do however read comments made to news articles shared on social media, although they do not comment themselves.

The older Dutch respondents (25-34)

The majority (90%) does follow the news, but they, like the younger Dutch respondents, do not always finish reading the news articles. They generally prefer reading news articles from their desktop computer (93%) but also use their smartphone (89%). They mainly read the news in the morning (93%) or in the evening (64%) while they are at home (89%) or while they use public transportation (79%). They are more open to classic monetization models as subscriptions, because it is only a little more than the half of the respondents who do not have a subscription to an online or print newspaper (55%). The ones who do not have one at the moment however, are not likely to get a subscription in the future (only 12%). Pay-per-view is not a very good option for this group (61%).

A small majority does read or follow the news via alternative platforms such as Vice, Mashable or Mindshakes (52%).

The appearance of a news website is very important to this group and they prefer a clean and simple design with a white text background. They are however evenly distributed about the preference about a serif or sans-serif font. They moreover favour a balanced presence of multimedia and text in a news article with a slight tendency towards less multimedia.

Although active on social media, the majority does not share news articles on their social media platforms (65%). If they share, they do it mainly via Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. They do however read comments made to news articles shared on social media, although they do not comment themselves.

The younger non-Dutch respondents (18-24)

The majority (87%) does follow the news, but they do not always finish reading the news articles. They generally prefer reading news articles from their desktop computer (85%) but also use their smartphone (79%). They mainly read in the morning (77%) or in the evening (51%) while they are at home (80%) or or while they  using public transportation (64%) . They have a rather closed attitude towards traditional monetization models because they do not have a subscription to an online or print newspaper (70%). When asked however if they would get a subscription in the future, the majority (72%) replied with a yes.  Pay-per-view however is not a very good option for this group because the majority (84%) would not use it.

The majority does read or follow the news via alternative platforms such as Vice, Mashable or Mindshakes (60%).

The appearance of a news website is very important to this group and they prefer a clean and simple design with a white text background and a classic serif font. They moreover favour a balanced presence of multimedia and text in a news article.

Although active on social media, the majority does not share news articles on their social media platforms (49%). Compared to the Dutch respondents however, this is still slightly more. If they share, they do it mainly via Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. They do  read comments made to news articles shared on social media but mostly on the newspaper website (41%).

The older non-Dutch respondents (25-34)

The majority (93%) does follow the news, but they also do not always finish reading the news articles. They generally prefer reading news articles from their desktop computer (84%) but also use their smartphone (80%). They mainly read the news in the morning (75%) or in the evening (63%) while they are at home (86%) or while they use public transportation (48%). They are more less open to classic monetization models as subscriptions than the Dutch respondents in the same age group, because the majority does not have a subscription to an online or print newspaper (69%). The ones who do not have one at the moment however, are likely to get a subscription in the future (60%). Pay-per-view is as with all of the other groups not a very good option for this group (84%).

The majority does read or follow the news via alternative platforms such as Vice, Mashable or Mindshakes (57%).

The appearance of a news website is very important to this group and they prefer a clean and simple design with a white text background. They are however evenly distributed about the preference about a serif or sans-serif font. They moreover favour a balanced presence of multimedia and text in a news article with a slight tendency towards less multimedia.

Although active on social media, the majority does not share news articles on their social media platforms (56%). If they share, they do it mainly via Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. They do  read comments made to news articles shared on social media but mostly on the newspaper website (43%).

For a more detailed overview of the different percentages in relation to each other, have a look at our actual presentation of the survey results we created for the meeting with the Persgroep Nederland.

Conclusion

We will use the results of this survey as a focus for the next sprint during which we will create the prototype. We especially believe that the results related to the use of social media and comment sections offer opportunities for rethinking and improvement. Because as our results show, the Millennial news readers enjoy to read other readers comments on news articles but they apparently do not write comments themselves. All of the respondents are also very active on different social media platforms but they do not share news articles themselves or comment to news articles already shared on social media. These are interesting findings which we want to further investigate during the next sprint. Through the results of the survey we moreover were able to retrieve guidelines for the general design of the prototype (colours, fonts, use of images etc.), which is really useful.

We are aware however that statistics always have to be taken with a grain of salt – reality always is more complex and our results are only representative to a certain extend. The results nevertheless are indicators for tendencies among our target group and will guide us throughout the next sprint. It will be interesting to see how these findings play out in the prototype we develop and specifically in the usability tests we will conduct.