LAT uxui research

It's all about digital subscription. 

When I asked Norman Pearlstine, the Executive Editor of the LAT, what the company achieve by progressing towards a digital field, he listed out a few notes to think about: 

  1. Based on how information is provided to people I this current age, how can we provide content to readers quickly and easily?

  2. How should we brand and market our platform so people know that the stories they are reading are coming from the LAT?

What are some features help the app to stand out from all the other news apps out there? What are some things that the LA Times are doing in terms of design to be able to 

Accessibility of Information

-The initial user experience reminded me a little of an Instagram feed - there are many things to look at thumbnail size, and as you scroll, you can freely stop to examine whatever interests you, tap on it, then read the article in more depth. What a lot of app mislooks but this app doesn't is the ability to back out from the article but stay at wherever you last scrolled to rather than starting from the top of the page again. This promotes more scrolling and reading for content. 

-Top news is displayed first. Then metro, sports, and finally food. They have presented what are the most important and popular news, and you can even change it based on your personal settings. 

Clarity and Readability

-The navigation bar with "Top News, California, Sports..." is very comfortable to look at and read compared to the Boston Globe's nav bar. The BG's nav bar is more compact and it feels messier overall. 

-The overall feel of the app is clean and white - there is a lot of spacing, but still compact enough where space isn't wasted. 

-The date and weather is placed on top, which is the first thing you would see. The Washington Post and Boston Globe doesn't do this. I do believe that it is more convenient to see the dates so you know when the news you are reading is written and published.

-The font size is big enough. It is comfortable for the older audience. 

-Ads are spaced out over the entire page so it doesn't congest the user's flow. 

-I think it's a smart idea to put the time the news was published. Furthermore, the way it is presented is minimal but understandable, e.g. "5h" for 5 hours. Less words speaks more. 

are users in control?

Personalization - users can choose what news they want to read, and the app will send them notifications. However, the news that pops up on the notification screen will sometimes disappear when you accidentally open and close the page. What if it is temporarily pinned onto a "recommended" or "related to you" section (for instance, Wall Street Journal's mobile app has a "recommended" tab where you can see what you would want to read depending on your interest. Chicago Tribune has an "alert" section with similar features). 

-The navigation bar with "Top News, California, Sports..." is very comfortable to look at and read compared to the Boston Globe's nav bar. The BG's nav bar is more compact and it feels messier overall. 

what is different about the lat app?

The color choice is different from other newspaper apps - although the original black and white newspaper concept are still the main colors, the bright reddish-orange tone stands out clearly from all other competitors, who only has two colors or cold, dark colors. This color choice is also clean and comfortable to look at, with slight gradience when used as a background. 

LAT definitely wins by design in my opinion because of its clarity and color choices. But what if the app icon also used the color red instead of black and white? That way, the app's icon will definitely stand out when next to every other news ios icon. 

The video tab  is an interesting idea because if you think about it, most people use their phones during meals, on public transport, or upon waking up. That is when people usually have access to earphones to listen to music or sound. The videos are also all short (mostly under 5 minutes) so people can watch them if the content seems intriguing.

personal opinions

The "E-Newspaper" section can be put into menu instead of having it have its own main page. I believe that if someone has a mobile app to read the news, he or she wouldn't be interested in the print version to begin with. Instead of the E-Newspaper, maybe replace it with something like a "discover" similar to Instagram - depending on what you are interested in, your location, or what you read often, the algorithm sorts through all the stories written within the couple of days to show up in this section. 

When I scroll down the home page, sometimes I am not aware that I am moving from one category of news to another, e.g. from "Breaking News" to "Business." The brain doesn't pick up everything on the screen especially with the fast speed scrolling. Maybe it would be clearer to have the name of the category be pinned on the top of the screen and change its name as you scroll from one category to another. 

Conclusion:

1. I appreciate the placement of the video section to be put onto the main screen - this displays the view of how LAT is trying to progress more towards digital content creation. By promoting video and audio in the app, it differentiates itself from every other news mobile apps. Although these features may not be the most popular as of now, it is the first step to getting journalism more connected digitally with subscribers. 

2. Through simple color choices alone, LAT is able to stand out from other news mobile apps where the emphasis is on cold colors with black and white only. By having a minimalistic, reddish tone added into the mix, the app instantly stands out and becomes unique in terms of branding. 

3. The goal to increase the number of digital subscribers will continue to be a goal that the LAT will try to achieve. We can compare or learn from why other news firms are successful, but ultimately, we need to understand that the world is constantly reshaping itself in terms of how information is processed and received, and therefore we designers ourselves must be alert to observe how people think and react to their surroundings. 

Designs, illustrations, and animations © Roseanne Chao