Our team was contracted by Vice to help them develop and test concepts that would resonate and drive engagement with their core audience but also appeal to a new audience–Zenniels or 'Gen Z'. This project was on a short deadline of only 4 weeks with a team of two designers and two engineers.
- Appeal to both Gen Z and Gen Y
- A platform for Vice News and Vice (all properties) in one place
- Explore novel organization/engagement patterns
User research & Synthesis
Our research phase was quite short given the timeline of this project. We kicked off with a survey that we had a group of Gen X and Yers respond to, we screened participants to provide a diverse cross-section of these two demographic segments. We also did an analysis on user reviews of the existing Vice News mobile application and did a literature review of existing market research regarding Gen Z and attitudes regarding news media. We synthesized our research by identifying key experience themes and developed a customer profile where we identified the core jobs, pains and gains of Vice media’s core audience.
Using the insights we gleaned from our rapid research week we identified some opportunity areas and crafted some ideation prompts in the form of How Might We questions. I used these to facilitate a Crazy 8s workshop with our entire team. My partner and I synthesized the output from this ideation session into three distinct concepts, of which we converged on two of them for development into interactive prototypes.
Prioritization & prototyping
After prioritizing our best ideas we ended up with two that we felt were strong enough to design and develop into prototypes. We used these to help us with initial validation testing, as well as to share with our stakeholders. Both of our concepts utilize trending interaction patterns that are being adopted by both gen Y and Z mobile users.
We ended up building these two prototypes using a prototyping tool called Framer X. We used Framer because we wanted to explore gestures and interactions that would be difficult to do or impossible with tools like InVision. Of particular interest was to help us fine-tune certain gestures and adjust their sensitivity on the fly.
Prototype 1 | Cube
Cube is a concept that borrows interaction patterns from Snapchat that allow for quick browsing, consumption and sharing of news stories. Gestures such as taps, swipes and drags, combine in an intuitive and familiar system to allow for one-handed news browsing.
- pain reliever Snackable content with rich media to capture reader attention
- pain reliever Vertical Video fills the entire screen without a hassle
- gain creator Easy to use on-the-go with gestures that offer one-handed browsing
- gain creator Easy to share content through AMP stories and SMS
Prototype 2 | Dose
Another trending interaction pattern that we were keen to experiment with was the Tinder swipe. Our second prototype, which we called 'Dose' was designed to address our increasing awareness of the need for digital wellness. It does this by eliminating the endless scroll in favour of limited releases of 'Stories'.
The user is in control of how much they want to receive and are able to swipe through until they find what they're looking for.
- pain reliever Fits content consumption into personal routines
- pain reliever Less time wasted on filtering content
- pain reliever A transparent taste profile and recommendation system build trust and personalization.
- gain creator Surfaces content aligned to personal interests
- gain creator Stories can be read or listened to depending on context and preference
We had some additional technology and experience recommendations that we felt could apply to both concepts and maybe something to put into a roadmap.
Low friction sharing
We know that sharing is important with our networked customer segments and we feel that sharing should be friction free. Vice can increase organic sharing of their content, and discovery of the Vice News application making sharing easy. We think their is a compelling opportunity in the AMP project.
The AMP Project is an open-source initiative that enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms. Web pages and ads published in the AMP format load near instantly, giving users a smooth, more engaging experience on mobile and desktop.
AMP stories are built with the same technology used in AMP pages, meaning they'll load quickly while providing users with a smooth experience.
They immerse readers in tappable, full-screen content. Building on the possibilities of the AMP project, this format enables the creation of visual content that is fast, open, and user-first.
We identified a trend with Snapchat in its use of vertical video to facilitate ease of viewing on mobile devices, especially convenient for one-handed use. The act of turning the phone to view landscape format video in fullscreen is awkward and inconvenient. Taking vertical video a step further, we discovered a compelling interactino with the same VR180 format video we were recommending for VICELAND in our previous engagement. When viewed in a vertical video format the 180 video allows for a highly engaging experience. As the device's gyroscope tracks the movement of the phone, the user is able to 'look around' by moving their phone side to side, and up and down.
Listening to articles
In our trend and signal analysis, we spotted the rise in popularity of podcasts and the adoption of voice interfaces as important signals. We see an opportunity for Vice News to hedge against these trends, and make their journalistic content more accessible, by allowing users to choose how they consume the news–by reading or listening.
Concept presentation & CES 2019 demo
After 4 weeks we were able to present 2 functioning prototypes that explored how Vice News can bring trending interaction patterns to traditional news media (e.g., Tinder-swipes, Taste profiles, Snapchat stories, Vertical video, AMP stories, ) with a sensitivity to current industry hot-issues like platform lock-in, digital distraction, and the echo chambers of social media. Our final deliverables were tailored to help the client present their new concepts for content consumption at CES 2019.