Tag Archives: ux

Of Past and Future: Archives and information’s lifespan

It was quite interesting to know that social media is “breathing new life to old stories“. It seems that archive content is becoming viral thanks to (frictionless) sharing. This clearly shows the main difference between  paper and digital, linear and non-linear.

The Guardian and The Independent have both integrated their content into Facebook and this has lead to wide and rapid distribution of their content via the social network.
The strange thing is that –  without any effort or intention on their part- many of the most popular stories from these papers on Facebook have not been to do with revolution in Egypt or US presidential campaigns, but they have instead been articles from the late 1990s. As the FT Techhub reports, the most shared list on The Independent website has been littered with stories with headlines like: ‘Sean, 12, is youngest father’.
What does this mean for newspapers?

I have always defended that media should have a digital strategy for archives:

Well organized archives are paramount in a medium in which information lives forever. This allows a longer lifespan for content, make it easily available for future reference, it can be used for self reference in future content, and cross referencing for external content and curation.

And it also builds brand. This out of time sharing phenomenon is important to understand how users  information habits have changed in the past years and what are their needs, and what is causing this. And the answers are pretty straight forward:

Changes

– users have access to content from different points in time more easily than ever;

– users have the personal interest in sharing what they find relevant. Social Media is a huge factor these days;

–  users can comment and build on that information, use it to generate more information, and make it available;

– users can organize that information for themselves, or for their community;

So, you have a news organization. And in your website’s database you have thousands of news articles. What do you have to do to make that content more valuable?

Needs

content should be tagged accordingly. I spent a lot of time during my training sessions explaining why tags were important for users and journalists- not do they only help classify the contents of a story, but it relates that content to other articles: people, places, events, etc. As a user I can find more information about a specific item, as a journalist I can use an old article as a reference for my current story;

–  archives should have better mechanics: lists of items are useless, make them look more like a section of your website, with images and metadata, and other types of data, like visits, shares, number of related articles through tags or if it belongs to a series, and the ability to visually place them in time;

– this content has to be available to be curated using tools similar to Storify or Bundlr (disclaimer: I know and I’m friends with Bundlr’s creators, and I think it would make a great internal curation tool for news websites).

news content should be broken down to raw data: addresses, statistics, number of victims, poll results, goals scored, minutes played (sports are the best subject for archive use, I once was giving a class in a room filled with year collections of a sports newspaper, gigabytes of information on paper, thousands of charts, profiles, data visualizations to be created).

Causes

And what is causing this? Well, it’s easy, information is perennial  (as long the servers are maintained). Even Cristiano Ronaldo used archive information (moving images, for the matter) to create a video showing his time as a young player(Facebook video) in Portugal. Now information can be reused, reviewed, replayed. And some stories just live forever, others find a new life, or a new importance under the right light.

News have now a different life cycle, and the potential is great for new products, relationships and business.

What do you think news companies should do with their archives? Do you think they are putting their previous work to good use? As a user, would you like to have more access to news archives and make new things with that information?

 

Re-conceptualizing the news product – Guest post @ Innovative Interactivity

I wrote a post for Tracy Boyer’s awesome Innovative Interactivity blog. It is a bit different from the stuff that usually is posted there – it’s mainly about multimedia, and you should follow it  – because I discuss the new characteristics that should be taken into account when creating digital news products. I’ll be writing an in depth series over each item soon, but meanwhile you can get the gist of it.

 

user experience honeycomb for design

It’s not about just informing people anymore, it’s about creating a product that lets people do something with that information, creating richer and more immersive content, making it more valuable and with a longer lifespan.

The goal is to combine these features to create an integrated product, going beyond placing them along the content. Multimedia, interactive packages are a great example of integration of these items, but many tend to forget some that could make the information more useful and improve user’s experience.

These are just the main ideas for this concept, so I’ll highlight the most important characteristics for each element.”

Read the full post here

Honeycomb: News vs UX | Notícias vs Experiência do utilizador

UX Honeycomb

I’ve been really interested in Information Architecture (IA) and how to work on  visual presentations. And accidentally i ended up looking at a post from 2004 that presented the  Experience Honeycomb, that goes beyond IA and into User Experience (UX).

And when i looked at the Honeycomb i thought this is how news contents should be planned.

How are news planned now then? Well, credibility, desirability, value, accessibility, are all  important factors, just like  actuality is (not on the honeycomb). But with blogs, Twitter and social networks news became “usable”: redistributable and recycled to create new, derived contents. And being “findable” adds value to those contents, SEO right? (and  S stands not only for the Search Engine type but also forthe Social drive).

What i’m thinking is that news are experiences, and we should shape news contents so they meet a similar model like the Honeycomb.

This is just a initial rant about it, but i think it’s worth investigating. The way journalistic contents are presented right now are not fulfilling all the potential presented by the characteristics of the online. So my proposal (not original) is to think about news as experiences.

How can we adapt the Honeycomb as a UX model to create news products? And what do you make of this?

Eu tenho andado interessado em Arquitectura da Informação (IA) e como trabalhar em representações visuais. E acidentalmente descobri um post de 2004 que mostra a Experience Honeycomb (=favo) que vai para lá da IA e para a Experiência do Utilizador (UX).

E quando olhei para o Honeycomb pensei que deveria ser assim que os conteúdos noticiosos deviam ser planeados.

Como são planeadas as noticias agora? Bem, credibilidade, necessidade, valor, acessibilidade, são todos factores importantes, assim como a actualidade (não faz parte do modelo). Mas com os blogs, Twitter e redes sociais as noticias passaram a ser “utilizáveis”, redistribuívies, e recicladas para criar conteúdos novos ou derivados. E serem “encontráveis” adiciona valor a esses conteúdos, é SEO certo? (e o S não é só de Search mas também de Social).

A minha ideia é de que as notícias são experiências, e que deveríamos moldar os conteúdos noticiosos de forma a que se enquadrem num modelo semelhante a este.

Esta é apenas uma divagação inicial, mas acho que vale a pena desenvolver. A forma como os conteúdos jornalísticos são criados agora não cumpre com todo o potencial que o online permite. Por isso a minha proposta  (não original) é olhar para as notícias como experiências.

Como podemos adaptar a Honeycomb como um modelo de UX para criar produtos informativos? E o que pensam disso?

Building a hyperlocal website: final thoughts

Keywords for hyperlocal

This is the final post about hyperlocal websites, that started with my own experience with HashBrum, as described in onetwo, three posts, and with the  special contribution of five sapient minds that work on hyperlocal endeavors. I learned a lot from my own efforts  – mine and the rest of the team’s – and also from  this reflection. It was interesting to analyze the list of characteristics presented by different people for hyperlocal websites and find common terms, common ideas, a common ground, even in the choice of words. Here’s what i learned, organized around a few main concepts. To understand them better, you should have read the previous posts of this series, but i think this will be quite clear and straight to the point.


Relevance

Why are hyperlocal news websites important? Why do people feel inclined to “backyard news”? Precisely. Proximity is the keyword here, and it’s not only a geographical concept, it’s also about the relationships that a hyperlocal blogger/journalist must have with the community (s)he covers. You have to live there, be a part of it, like Will Perrin said. You’ll beat any other local newspaper because of your knowledge, you know the ground better than them, the real problems, because they are your problems too. And since you are there, you can get to the news faster, and stay on them for a longer period of time, without deadline constraints: you have availability. And will the local media send a reporter for every story you find interesting? Not really, no. Your broken streetlight is not an issue for the general audience, but it is for the people who live in that street: granularity, or , it’s the small stuff that counts.

UX

Another good thing that hyperlocal websites are good at is by providing a better user experience. Innovation and experimentation in storytelling, using maps, multimedia, different ways to look at and navigate through the news. And without  the need for a huge investment, because most of the tools to create a website like this are free and open source, so only a small financial investment is required, the real expense here is time. But to be effective, the hyperlocal website’s technology must promote participation, allow people to offer their input, and  the users should be able to conform their experience through customization, getting the information they want, the way they want.

Attitude

At the core of hyperlocal behavior is passion. It’s your reality, or at least a reality that is right outside your front door. The level of engagement and commitment hyperlocal news websites have are huge, compared to the average reporter, who is assigned for a story and educated to be detached. Hyperlocal reporters are involved in the story and they can afford to be critical and assertive close to the local authorities,  and use their work to improve their community’s living standards and environment. It’s what matters to a few, that becomes really important.

Another relevant characteristic is adaptability. A good hyperlocal website is aware of it’s shortcomings and is constantly looking for new ways to do their work, something quite impossible to do in the bigger, slower structures of traditional media, and their sluggish procedures and bureaucracies. They can be built and developed fast, and still bring added value.

A new market is open for these projects: since it’s about and for the local community, it is also an advertising opportunity for local businesses, who can’t afford ads in the pages of a newspaper. If instructed to develop interaction and user experience like the hyperlocal website should do, there is a lot to get out of this, for local businesses.

The bottom line is, your neighborhood news matter, whether it’s a poorly made manhole, or a broken streetlight, or crime. It’s these bits of information that become important when you are living – or wanting to live – in a neighborhood. And if there’s a way to connect us back to our neighbors, whom we usually don’t know, and  join efforts to improve our real, every day life experience, it was well worth it. And if you want to do it, there isn’t much stopping you. All you have  to do is to talk to people who live next to you, see what is already being discussed online, and build a space to host the information that matters. All it takes is time, and quick thinking.

When we first thought about HashBrum, we believed we could create a small network of street level information, and let the different communities take part in the process. In the end we leaned towards reporting specific issues neglected by the local media, who didn’t have room in their agendas or the resources to cover them, or do comprehensive follow ups on the developments. It’s the idea that a brief article in local media can be a huge story for a community/hyperlocal website. And do you know what?, sometimes they’re huge for other communities too, that have the same problems, and what seemed to be an isolated event might be a more general issue within society.

With the fragmentation brought by the internet, the rule is no longer defined by the majority. It”s the individual’s rules and needs that matter, and we can customize them in size, subject and location. With all this power, citizens can start improving the world, starting at their doorsteps. Or just have their garbage collected more often. If you have your own ideas on this, please, do share them in the comment box below. If you aren’t already starting to build your own hyperlocal news thing…