News for smartphones
Project: Designing in-depth news for smartphones
Starting date – January 2010 | Status – Phase 1 of this project has been published as a research report; Phase 2 is in planning stages
“It’s neither easy nor pleasant to use the Web on mobile devices. Observing user suffering during our (July 2009 usability) sessions reminded us of the very first usability studies we did with traditional websites in 1994. It was that bad. … Mobile will never be the same as desktop. So, we’re left with the hope that websites will redesign for better mobile usability.”
Some magazines, like GQ, are in
Description – Few would argue that the tiny screen of the modern smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Google Droid, et al) is the ideal reading and viewing device for in-depth journalism. Major investigative reporting packages, enterprise stories containing many words and elements, and articles based around computer-based reporting and database analysis cry out for lots of room. Large-screen digital devices like PCs, laptops, tablet computers, and e-readers would seem better suited for complex, in-depth public-interest journalism.
Alas, publishers of such content don’t have the luxury of having all their readers viewing on large screens. The mobile revolution is in high gear, and in the coming years the majority of news consumers will be viewing some of their news on small devices like the smartphone. It is projected that by 2011, unit sales of smartphones will surpass that of PCs.
Given this coming reality, publishers of significant public-interest journalism must have the means to present their most important content — news that everyone should know about — on the small screen in a way that’s engaging, interesting, and most importantly, makes an impact.
In-depth public-interest news viewed on a smartphone or small mobile device must make as much of an impact on the reader as if he/she was using a large-screen device, or even reading the content in print or viewing it on TV.
That is the mission of this research. Specifically, the project team will:
- Research and study smartphone user behavior patterns and preferences
- Investigate, innovate, and develop smartphone information design and UI innovations that make in-depth news palatable and comprehensible to mobile media consumers
- Design mobile-device content modules that support user feedback, conversation, follow-up content submissions (“crowdsourcing”), surveys, social sharing, taking action on issues, and financial donations from the mobile device itself
- Conduct lab and public-use user testing of most promising mobile design and features to determine the most effective of the solutions
- Devise, test, and develop smartphone features for in-depth news content that leverage mobile’s advantages (GPS, location-aware, instant shoot-and-send photos and video, etc.) over presentation on other devices and media
- Share best practices for presenting in-depth news on smartphones, including recommendations on mobile website enhancements vs. mobile apps as the content delivery vehicle
- Develop easy-to-use tools and techniques for the news publisher to support creating mobile versions of in-depth content packages created first for larger screens, while giving the smartphone news consumer an excellent interactive experience with the content
Team members for this research project
- Journalism & Mass Communication – News design; user interface; content impact; multimedia; interactivity/participation (user comments, crowdsourcing, etc.); comparative user-experience research with other devices and media.
- ATLAS/Computer Science – Mobile user interface; navigation; module design and development; mobile website enhancements; mobile app design and development; mobile measurement
- I-News: The Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network – Reporting and production of a major investigative package to be used as content base for mobile-presentation research.
- Laura Frank, founder
- Laura Frank, founder
Do you have ideas for improving this project? Please leave your suggestions and feedback in the comments area below. Thanks!
Can you help fund this project? Please refer to our Giving page.