Are Media Sites Delivering Their News All Wrong?


In February of 2017, the Director for Ad Engineering for The Washington Post’s Research, Experimentation and Development group, Aram Zucker-Scharff, posted to his personal blog about a better model for delivering the news.

Aram's specific gripe? A lack of evidence to support the design choices news organizations were making online: 

"Few, if any, media companies are backing up their design with user experience science."

Aram argued that not enough attention was being paid to actual user experience. 

By copying what the big guys were doing (e.g., innovating with screens cluttered with ad videos and too many choices), media sites were becoming less, not more, readable.

"The first value every site design should solve for is readability. The people who come to news sites are there to read. Yet bad design patterns that challenge readability don’t just abound, they multiply."

Aram's article struck a chord with me, because I've been urging the educators training tomorrow's filmmakers (and XR experience designers), to instill a deeper understanding of how human anatomy and human perception work.

Here's what Aram wrote about that:

"Understanding how our readers eyeballs work in the general sense means building designs informed not by trends or other news orgs, but by science. Much of that science is publicly available, waiting for us to use."

Finally? 

Aram came out in favor of inviting the users to participate in the design process. Because the tools for delivering connected experiences are increasingly two-way, opening up (in previously unrealistic ways) to user interaction is not only possible, it can actually help to build a sense of community and ownership.

"With better tools and connections into the community we can start driving better choices to impact how we build the news. The news media can start looking at atomic, delayed, or personalized news with the confidence that we can build whole new workflows for reportage that create better engagement with our audience."

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