News Snacking

Physical newspapers operate as periodic curated editions i.e collections of articles typically published at a single point during the day.

Users of mobile phones expect something different. Within the Vodafone product group there was an axiom:

if it’s not personal, immediate or important then it will fail.

‘Fun’ was tagged onto the rule at a later date when it was discovered that customers would frequently spend short periods of time (snacking) on mobile games.

Applying the snacking format to news is relatively straight forward: Condense headlines, ensure there’s an associated image and try to keep the article length below 250 words.

Sometimes the format or cosmetic design can become the most debated aspect. However, when your designing your news app, it’s helpful to stay focused on the customer needs that you want to address.

For Sun Mobile we defined four need states:

  • Get me up to speed: a need-to-know what is happening without the detail. Short, sharp content, a top-line breakdown of the news
  • Inform me: a desire to learn more about stories of interest - a more detailed story
  • Distract me: something fun, entertaining or quirky to kill time or offer some escape
  • Keep me in the loop: a need for knowledge and keep up with the stuff that everyone’s talking

This resulted in the Sun mobile app being a rather radical departure from the traditional edition based approach.

A special thanks to The App Business who helped to create the iOS version. For Google we decided to translate the app rather than perform a straight copy of the iOS version. Our friends at Novoda helped to teach us how to get the most from Android. The internal Sun web team provided the underlying content feed.

Image courtesy of News Group Newspaper ltd.