New York Times Delivery
Student Project X The New York Times
Our graduate class partnered with The New York times in the spring of 2018 to help them explore new, thoughtful ways of connecting a younger audience with the breadth of content and media types they have available.
The project was conceived as a provocation to the New York Times Digital Team, a way of thinking about how content and context might work together to reach users in a new way.
How might we increase awareness of the New York Times' range of content among casual readers?
While young audiences respect The New York Times, they primarily see the paper as a place for news, which they could acquire elsewhere from free and/or more relatable publications. When they are exposed to a broader array of New York Times content, they enjoy it. Our challenge was to introduce them to it in a new and compelling way while addressing the issue of excess media content in a modern online experience.
Casual, millennial, readers of the New York Times. We defined “casual” as non-subscribers who read an article at least three times a month.
Research, Ideation, Prototyping, Visual Design
Renda Morton, The New York Times
New York Times Delivery is a narrative-based on-boarding quiz and and app to help connect casual New York Times readers with curated content that fits into their day.
Delivery provides users with three pieces of content, three times of day, morning, afternoon, and evening, based on the results of an on-boarding quiz. The limited content allows users to focus, and the specificity of the content allows it to be helpful, memorable, and relevant — three key qualities for generating meaningful awareness.
1. Help young, casual readers to build an organic relationship with content that is meaningful to them
2. Build a gateway to subscription for casual readers
3. Provide new content and media that fit into a casual reader’s life and routine without overwhelming
"This is great, I feel like I really learned about my own media habits. I like getting updated in the morning, something more fun in the afternoon, and by the end of the day I'm ready to relax."
— User Feedback
"I can tell it’s the New York Times, but I like that there isn’t a label. It lets me focus on the content itself."
— User Feedback
Under the hood
The hard working process under the solution
This is a quick read of our process. To learn more and go way in-depth, you can check out our process deck.
Content, content everywhere and not a drop to drink.
The Problem Up Close
We live in an endless scroll world and there is so much content that it’s impossible for readers to consume it all, much less do so thoughtfully.
With “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and the paradox of choice operating at full-swing, It’s hard for millennials to spend time focused on one piece of content or to take the time to discover something new. We wanted to help build habits and connections to content they would already find meaningful and relevant.
Awareness is about more than knowing something exists.
We took a cue from the marketing world and found that in order for something to build awareness, it had to be memorable, relevant, and/or helpful to the consumer. Simply becoming aware of New York Times content was not the goal.
We wanted to provide a low-friction gateway that eased casual readers into subscription through a genuine relationship with the content. Quiz on-boarding was a way to guide users into self-reflection and sharing information that would lead to providing the right content, not just more of it.
We picked a tiny part of a big, complex problem space and ran with it, starting with user insights.
Research & Synthesis
The New York Times provided existing research to us. Building off of that to verify or debunk our assumptions, we did user interviews with subscribers and causal reader of the media giant.
Ideation & Prototyping
The success of the on-boarding quiz was a high-risk part of our concept. Without that, the rest wouldn’t work. So we worked hard to get the right voice and tone, and to create a layout and user flow that felt delightful, harnessing the best parts of addictive quiz culture.
Iteration & User Testing
This version of Delivery is a complete re-design from the first. After the course ended and inspired by the feedback from the New York Times Digital Team, I dove into a more elegant re-make with further insights from users.
Building something new within an existing brand language.
We wanted Delivery to fit into the landscape of The New York Times’ digital products. The unifying themes outside of typefaces are a use of black, white, and grey, along with strong graphic elements, photography, and pops of color.
We think of the NYT in these black and white, modern and somewhat muted terms, but they are also bold, colorful, and enriched in emerging media; we wanted to highlight that with this solution.
Pared down with space to breathe.
Many news apps and websites use tight grids to help users scan mass amounts of content. Without that requirement, we could apply elements of their style guide to a simplified, meditative layout.
Hurdles & Learnings
This project took us into the common, and yet complex, landscape of building new solutions for a very well-known and established brand. The New York Times, in our research, did not have a problem with general awareness of their most key offering, the news. However, they did have trouble connecting with a younger demographic which felt The New York Times was not relatable or representative of their values. Our greatest challenge came in maintaining the positive aspects of The New York Times' identity while moving away from the less-appealing aspects enough to bring in a new audience and build trust with them.
I’m working on finishing up the motion prototyping for this project. I’d also love to test the product with users over a longer period of time and see how the interaction works over the long-term.