A made to measure newspaper for you… and your smartphone
Redesigning the mobile website of Spanish daily newspaper ABC, to turn it into an engaging experience for both readers and journalists.
ABC was founded in 1903. with an innovative approach to its news coverage. Based not only in rigour but also on a very visual concept, ABC was the first newspaper in Spain to publish an infographic to illustrate the legendary sinking of the Titanic and also the first aerial photograph.
Having delivered news for more than a century, ABC has learnt how to adapt to the changing ways of consuming content. For example, they were the first Spanish newspaper to have a website. No other moment in history has posed more challenges for a daily newspaper than today’s era of smartphones, which are the preferred device of ABC’s readers to consume their content.
The online version of ABC has around 11 million monthly unique visitors, according to comScore, and more than half of those readers consume ABC only on their smartphone. In light of this data and in the midst of a reinvention process, impacting its entire digital brand, ABC needed to provide their user with the best experience possible when interacting with their mobile web. We were lucky enough to be chosen as their partner to accomplish this huge challenge.
We asked ourselves: Does our mobile user have an optimum experience? The answer was no. We had a lot of work to do, and we decided to seek the help of the best: Fjord
The newspaper as a “living entity”
Everything started with research, which began with a “service safari” in the heart of content generation for ABC: the newsroom. We held interviews, attended meetings, shadowed journalists and technicians. This intense day was one of the major sources of inspiration for us. The combination of fast pace and rigour of the newsroom, with the great effort and care put into creating the printed edition, gave us many ideas on how to rethink the mobile experience.
One of the key learning experiences was realising that the ABC team thought of the newspaper as a living entity, which dies every night and reinvents itself each morning.
After the “safari” and several in-depth interviews to key project stakeholders, we understood the needs of both the business and editorial staff. We also interviewed ABC users and developed three personas that would serve as a reference throughout the process of co-creation and design.
The next step in our journey was a workshop together with ABC, in which we dug deeper on the lifecycle of digital content and how to adapt different types of news pieces to the small screen of a smartphone. This was all explored in a Rumble our co-creation workshop model. A sort of “grey matter gymkhana” in which we encourage our clients to look at the challenges of the project through the eyes of the reader; in this case, through the eyes of Concha, Fernando and Javier, the three personas for this project.
Taking these personas as a reference, we created empathy maps and a new service vision based on four pillars – coherence, rigor, adaptability and personalization – that would guide all our design decisions, whether visual or UX.
An ABC just for me
By this stage, ABC and Fjord had undertaken such an exhaustive “anatomy” of the users that we were now fully ready to make them the centre of the whole experience. To do so, we created “My ABC”, a comprehensive and innovative user panel that would enable readers to totally personalize their experience.
After a seamless sign up process, the user is able to activate and deactivate sections, hence configuring their own front page. Users would also be able to track their favourite writers, receiving alerts when these authors publish new opinion articles. Additionally, news and features could be saved on “My ABC” for later reading. Going a step further, we put emphasis on news that are likely to remain topical for a while, so that the user would be notified of any new content published on an issue and therefore stay completely up-to-date.
I’m fascinated by the Fjord method, which has especially helped us achieve what we wanted: for ABC to look at new ways of approaching challenges and resolving complex situations around a product or service
One system to rule them all
Instead of delivering a piece of design for each screen, we went with a modular system that is scalable and could be eventually be evolved further by ABC designers and development by in-house teams.
We therefore designed a series of modules that would help editors to prioritise and deprioritise, different types of content. Editors would have a basic module, consisting solely of a brief introduction that could be enhanced with; photos of different sizes, as well as other elements or sub-modules such as audio, related news, infographics, real time streaming and surveys. As it is a modular system, more sub-modules could be added in the future. Our aim was to create a sort of “digital living being”.
We also created a new browsing structure, with a reorganized hierarchy that would help users find news and topics faster and easier. Also, to bring further cross-channel consistency to the brand, we recommended ABC take some elements of their physical edition, typography and colour ranges, across to the mobile website.
Our design was very well received by the whole ABC team, including. Luis Enríquez Nistal, CEO of Vocento, the media group that owns ABC. He was pleasantly surprised by our ability to capture what was needed and the prototype we presented went straight into production just as it was.
The new mobile website was successfully launched just three months after we delivered our design concept.
The project, our approach and our collaboration with ABC can be best summed up ABC.es’s Business Director, Beatriz Lizarraga: “I’m fascinated by the Fjord method, which has especially helped us achieve what we wanted: for ABC to look at new ways of approaching challenges and resolving complex situations around a product or service.”