Thursday, June 7, 2012

London IA

Here are a couple of reviews I’ve written for London IA:

Talking about talking about design by Nick Marsh

The neuroscience of design by Joe Leech

If you’re in town and manage to get a ticket, you should pop along. It’s always a great event!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writing time

Have been Twittering but nothing much more than 140 characters. No word limit here on Tumblr and it feels good to be writing something more than a tweet. 

About 6 months ago I started a new job and sort of got swept up into that. Stopped Tweeting too.

And now there is time: to think, to talk, to read and finally, time to write.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Storyboard mapping out how Alex uses the new news - related content.
Check out how this works in my low-fidelity wireframe

Storyboard mapping out how Alex uses the new news - related content.

Check out how this works in my low-fidelity wireframe

New News - creating connections

The ‘Show and Sell’

Is right here for you to view! It’s all about the future of related articles.

The design document

Have a look at Alex and the related content experience in my storyboard.

And take a closer look too! I’ve wireframed the experience.

I’d like to work alongside journalists/news teams and the end-users (news consumers/readers) to understand their needs and ensure these map to my ever-evolving software idea. Running workshops with stakeholders would provide me with an opportunity to listen to their requirements and explore solutions.
I’d like to gain insight into the feasibility of the tool within the newsroom and understand how, when and where content can be tagged and uploaded to the collective pool from which related articles across the site are populated.

With the end users, the customers I’d like to understand how, when and where they will use this related content (mobile, tablet, laptop) and what they’d like to add or remove from this idea.

I’d work with the insight from stakeholders, designers and developers to progress my idea. The idea has developed to include the ability to see the passage of time and content from social media sites including tweets, posts, podcasts, videos etc. Who knows how it’ll change going forward and I am sure that the open-source community could work wonders, taking this idea in directions I’ve not yet considered!

The newsrooms existing infrastructure could be used to get content into the system. For newsrooms that work with teams, one member per team could be designated to content tagging and upload.

To populate the related articles at the bottom of a page, the newsroom team need only enter a few relevant tags and watch as the related content is populated. The concept lives and as other content within and beyond the paper are added to this will be reflected in the content the end user views. 

Imagine you’ve just finished an article and it’s been published - wouldn’t it be great if you could at the click of a mouse show how your article is a part of the bigger picture? It’s this thought that makes me think the idea will integrate with ease into the newsroom operations, becoming second nature. When content is created or a reliable source is located on Twitter or YouTube it will be tagged and uploaded to the system.
I believe the idea could fundamentally change the online news experience – the way in which online news is viewed and digested.

Collaboration is key to the success of this project. Once the idea begins to solidify it’s time to get it back in front of the key stakeholders both internal (newsroom staff) and external (your customers) and get some feedback. Getting the idea out there, starting with MozNewsLab participants before asking for wider feedback and inviting suggestions would be invaluable in terms of exposure. For buy-in from open-source developers I’d grant open access to the API (this can be throught of as the building blocks of the software) enabling them to explore and innovate. 

Challenges lie with validation of content from citizen journalists. 
As I watched the London Riots develop and unravel over Twitter I quickly understood there were only a few reliable sources, one of which was the Guardian’s Paul Lewis, but that didn’t prevent stories of fire bombs spreading like rife. So, it’s important that only reliable sources are pulled into the paper’s related content.

In terms of big open issues… Let’s move away from transferring the paper experience online but really begin to think about how we can create online news experiences. Online news can present a story and show it developing over time within one space. Paper papers are restricted to the news on any given day and cannot link one article to another published earlier. Let’s enjoy the opportunities within online news!

Hmm, questions a reasonable person would ask:
How will this work? 
What benefits will this add? 
How much additional work will this add to the already busy newsroom? 
How will citizen journalists be validated as a reliable source?

In terms of resolving this I’d say its about spending time within the newsroom pitching the idea and gaining buy-in from key stakeholders and the open-source community. I’d share insights from usability test sessions/interviews with users where they compare and contrast existing related articles with related content experience to spur people on!
I’d love to go in for a full trial of the concept in a smaller newsroom to get real feedback and see related content in action.


The business brief

They are the two big reasons why this idea makes sense to build from a news organization’s perspective.

  1. Related content provides users the on-going narrative to any story – we’re creating an experience. It pulls together content from across the web whilst providing the user with the freedom to tailor their view and understand which content is most read.
  2. The tool has the potential to be used by journalists too, searching within the system could surface new or seemingly unconnected information and provide journalists with reference material to aid story-telling.


I’m addressing the problem of online news being viewed in silos, often without context. By surfacing related content the silos are destroyed and an online news experience is created.

This tool is designed to benefit two main user groups:

  • customers/news readers
  •  journalists


In terms of peers or competitors, those who come close are The Guardian’s Zeitgeist – where trending news items are shown from across the paper, Flipboard – where users create their own magazine using content from the web and mashes this with the overarching idea behind Greplin – social media sites search (across a user profile). I am sure Greplin could be addapted to search across a keyword. I sincerely hope to use these as the foundations of my idea —> Related content.

Thank you for your time!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011