Preliminary research revealed that a very particular group of our users were frequenting the blogs. They are loyal, opinionated and extremely regular in their activity on the site. Their main challenge was that it wasn’t possible to read multiple posts quickly, also the commenting structure was incredibly poor in terms of usability. The business objective was to achieve this whilst increase UV’s and overall advertising revenue. The blogger’s objective was to have a framework that could ‘degrade’ depending on the amount of input they wanted to include on a post. eg: include an image or a curated block at the top of the page.
The brief was to revamp the look and improve the user experience of the opinions blogs utilising the new enterprise WordPress implementation. This was a great opportunity to test a new design system that I was working on for the wider network. A lean approach was negotiated as necessary due to the extremely tight deadline – this was key to getting the space to test the design system without extensive stakeholder sign-off along the way.
This project was also a good opportunity to formulate an approach for an intermediary filter and sort system in lieu of faceted search capabilities. Not just for the journalist opinion section, but network-wide.
Since the initial launch there has been a lot of feedback from the users via the commenting structure which gave a further layer of insight into their experience of the site and the nature of their use of the site. In addition to the overall improvement to the site design and platform stability, there was also a 5% increase in unique visitors and a huge 60% increase in page views.
The next stage was to iterate the design based on these insights. One such insight was that despite the overall increase in traffic and engagement the user was unhappy at the increase in clicks needed to access a post (the journey from the blog index to the article page template being used as an interim method of displaying the post) and found that the new design, though clean, did not reflect the personality of the site that they had grown accustomed to.
Brand was something that I was considering more broadly at a later date, however in the meantime I was able to to work towards a solution to the number of clicks via user interviews and testing in our UX labs by exploring possible continuous scroll and paginated solutions. The biggest challenge here was that we only had access users reflective of our primary personas rather than specifically represented our blog audience, however some broad insights were still possible at this stage.
User interviews revealed that whilst accessing multiple posts quickly was important, so to was having access the plethora of comments instantaneously. These two features were not very compatible within the current design solution so it was important to go back to the beginning of the process and get more in-depth research to inform the next steps.
A key part of planning for this was to create specific personas for the journalist opinion section rather than using the primary Masthead personas. However despite the longterm goals it was important to continue to adopt an iterative approach to improve the design for our fiercely loyal blog users.
News Corp – Dec 2015 to Present
UX Designer, Design Director, Stakeholder Management, Design System Strategy
My task for the journalist opinion section was to revamp the experience using a new design system that I was evangelising for use on the wider network as part of the News Reimagined initiative. This was the first live incarnation of this design structure and a great test bed for the overall system.