How to create innovative news portals?

Best practices of utilizing UX and UI in times of huge demand for valuable and intelligible news content. Part 1.

We love to work on proven patterns of action, because they feel safe, give quick results and can save time and money. We do it in many areas of business and in most areas of life. By sticking to these patterns, we simplify our living and we do not have to ask the same questions every day. But is this approach really beneficial? The specificity of content consumption is changing dynamically. The user and his environment pose new challenges to us, which is why publishers’ courage and risk-taking are necessary today. It’s time to redefine the media.

We organize meetings because this way of solving corporate problems has, for many years, worked best for us. We read books, thinking that this is the best way to absorb knowledge. Going further – we travel to work by car because nobody has yet introduced a flying skateboard into our lives, and we use an umbrella as a rain protection because we know it works.

All the media market has been arranged in the same way – based on what we know and what we got used to.  Sometimes, however, it’s good to stop and reflect. Perhaps regular duplication of the same behavior leads us to lose the most important treasure here: the user.

Why do information services need a revolution?

Our surroundings have changed. In a world dominated by social media, we are all content creators.

The amount of information has multiplied. There are many replications of content on the internet that reach us from various sources, including friends.

Radical social and technological change has created new habits for news readers, so that, for example, many users share content that they do not read at all.

The new generation users are people who have never read a newspaper.

New content organization

Unfortunately, some of the news portals still look like newspapers from the early 20th century. The paper is valuable, the area on the first page is very limited. But this has nothing to do with digital content. Pixels are not as expensive as paper, and the capacity of the home page is not limited. But still, old patterns of thinking about the layout of the page are constantly being replicated. Designers are trying to fill every free space on the screen.

Maybe we should look at the construction of another information portal, namely Facebook. You can see that we have only one piece of information at a time there. The main information.

Facebook UX designers have known for a long time that the mobile environment is that which deserves our real attention. By building a news page in “the Facebook way”, it turns out that the fold no longer makes sense. Actually, the smaller the amount of information appearing before the fold, the greater the chance that user will start scrolling.

scrolling content

It’s time to break the grid

For several years, the grid seems to have been the best solution in the world of portal design. This is a very convenient option, proposed by developers, which allows you to divide the screen into (usually) 12 columns where you place elements of the website. The grid determines their size and location, almost automatically adjusting the content to the mobile environment. However, such an approach has its pros and cons.

Of course, it’s universal – it helps with creating today’s online media, provides purity and arranges the content. It also helps developers with their work so they don’t have to struggle with many types of screens, sizes, and proportions. But also because of the grid, all portals look pretty much the same. We suffer from a lack of creativity. Of course, we can’t pin all the blame onto the grid. The more unconventional and creative the design, the more effort is needed on the development side, and this simply raises the cost of the project. Something here must give.

There is nothing wrong in looking for new options and breaking the grid. We are supposed to read users’ behavior and learn as much as possible from this. Let’s lead them and create truly innovative media.

Bad UX vs. reality

One of the keywords of the present times is the word „update”. Due to ubiquitous updates, digital products and services are becoming more and more convenient, nicer to use and simply better. We like to believe that someone is constantly working to make things better for us. If something is not sufficiently easy to use, fast and attractive, we reject it. It is not enough that something simply works without too many complaints.

Therefore, in terms of information services, it is important to properly understand the word „design”. The aesthetic issue is one thing, but good UX and proper navigation are the keys to success and credibility.

Even great unique content will not provide us with page exploration. The portal can propose the most valuable texts in the world, but if the UX is bad – the website is loading slowly, inconvenient, it’s filled with annoying advertisements or simply unattractive, the user will not stay there for long. He will choose a different medium – friendly, aesthetic and simple to use.

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