HEADLINE is a mobile news app meant to get to the core facts
of a story quickly and simply. The home page interface displays headlines
written to tell you what the story is about, not make you click on them.
Article tiles also display a “flame” to rank the hotness or importance of a
story, an icon representing the character/topic matter involved, and a flag for
the nationality the article describes.
You can scroll through sections, though you will always have
a “NOW” section. You can change these sections/order (except NOW) in the
(imagined) settings, accessible in the lower right corner.
Also in the bottom navbar, going left to right, is a link to
your profile (simply your login info, perhaps saved articles), your “rank”
(more on that in a second), and a share button that lets you text or whatsapp a
link to the article (hosted on a web version of HEADLINE, which encourages you
to get the app), and the headline to someone. Since we’re focusing on people
who may have varying levels of technology available to them, this simple format
is likely to work on anyone’s phone.
As for “rank,” one of the ways in which we encourage
reading/sharing is by gamifying the system. Your “Informed” rank varies from
0-9, based on how often you read stories and if you’re choosing the hottest
stories or missing them. You can also increase the rank by taking a quiz at the
end of the article or sharing it. It’s simply for your own satisfaction, but it’s
just another way to encourage engagement.
Now, on to the actual articles.
Each article starts with a one-line description, to give you
some way to mentally organize the upcoming information in your head. Then, it
lists the people involved and how they are involved, giving you icons to attach
the information to. These icons stay the same not only throughout this story,
but through all stories involving that topic/character/person in the app.
Then comes a time line. Most stories are actually a series
of events, especially big stories that develop, so rather than bombarding one
with lots of new updated articles, the timeline is simply updated/elongated as
needed. It also gives a nice way to visualize the sequence of events.
On the timeline, underlined words can be tapped for further
info. These are words the audience may not know, or words that link to verbatim
quotes or text, like that of a politician’s statement.
After the timeline comes an “IN LINE” summation, or what is
likely going to happen next. This, too, is continually updated.
Finally, there’s an “END OF THE LINE,” where the leftmost
icon lets you quiz yourself on the article for further points and the share
icon again encourages you to share the article.
I imagine there’s also a slide left/right transition between
articles and the home page for navigation, and that the app refreshes
automatically when you close/open it.
As for strategy, I envision the app having a few key
advantages. The interface is unique because it’s not article based – it’s story
based, with stories updated as time goes on. This keeps one from having to read
overlapping information to get the full story, and just check the bottom of the
sections for new info.
Another advantage would be the gamification. Though your
rank gets you nothing, it’s something one could show to friends, and also
tracks progress, similar to Duolingo, Codecademy, or other services that
motivate by assigning meaningless badges or awards.
Lastly, the share format of just a headline and a link to a
web version of headline would allow people to spread the app to their friends
easily. Again, being story- rather than article-based would provide the
differentiating factor as to why people might choose this over a more
traditional news source.