Product Design Drives News Engagement

More people are visiting news sites than ever before. However, the problem is that they’re not sticking around. This is where product design plays a role in how users interact with the news. By figuring out new ways of engaging users, we are able to build relationships that keep people coming back for more.

During my time at The Huffington Post, we completely revamped our newsletter and built it around a mobile mail format. First, we updated our messaging to be more relevant for target audiences. In addition, we reduced friction by adding email auto-fill and other enhancements to the user experience. As a result, these combined efforts drove subscriptions up by 30 percent. Not bad for a newsletter, right?

Getting back to mobile, this is the primary tool that people are using to access news. While this opens up accessibility for news, most users will drop off of a site after reading one story. This is especially true if they access your site from a social network. So, we tested out a few ways to keep users looking for more content. Many years before Snapchat and Instagram stories, we piloted the “pinch view” which gave you a preview of the next article. As a result, we saw a 22 percent lift in page revisits.

With the rise in online content, there’s been a rapid “pivot to video” within the news world. To some in the news business, this is viewed cynically as a move away from text-based journalism and a move toward short-form videos only. In addition, many will point to the fact that advertisers are more attracted to the cost per impression (CPM) that video content provides. To me, I think it’s time for every news organization to embrace video in their product design.

Above all else, video is universal in its ability to share stories – which is ultimately what we’re in the business to provide. Particularly for young people, they are often surprised by static content that doesn’t move or have sound. In addition, the future of video in the news business is not going to be traditional broadcast journalism. People want short, informative videos to give them the content they need – and news organizations are ideal sources for this content.

Even a simple GIF goes a long way to driving engagement. For example, we replaced every static banner on The Huffington Post with moving images. In the end, this drove a 27% increase in click-thru rate. Ultimately, it’s the little things you do that provide a little delight to customers that make all the difference.

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About the speaker
Julia Beizer Bloomberg, Chief Product Officer Member

Julia Beizer is the Chief Product Officer at Bloomberg media, shaping the organization’s consumer-facing experiences across all platforms and devices. Prior to taking on this role, she was head of product, design, and engineering for HuffPost. Before that, she spent a decade at The Washington Post, working on both the news and product sides of the company. She currently serves on the board of Questback, an insights company, and Boolean Girl, a nonprofit that teaches girls how to code.

About the host
Andrea Chesleigh Boxed, VP of Product and Engineering

Andrea is the VP of Product and Engineering at One Kings Lane, a digital-first resource for making your home an expression of your personal style. She has spent over fifteen years in Product and Tech, and has led teams at startups and Fortune 500 companies, including Rent the Runway, Zappos, Time Warner, and Verizon. Andrea is passionate about solving hard (seemingly impossible) challenges, developing simple yet delightful products, building teams of entrepreneurial critical thinkers, and creating strategic outcomes with impact. She is a hands-on leader with a player/coach style, diving into the details with her team to partner, advise, and guide them to success.

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