Thursday, April 30, 2015

... could teach The Orion something about mobile news

We had a fun and interesting class period Wednesday taking a look at the most popular online news websites and identifying things they did well that The Orion could emulate on and the Orion app.

Small groups opened BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Gawker and other news apps on the list as well as Circa, NYT Now and the NPR website, then identified three potential upgrades to the Orion's app. I presented a Prezi to introduce the exercise.

Here are the results:

Huffington Post

Main menu is basic, click to get options to see more certain section, but not every category. Orion- has too many specific categories, it would look neater if it they shortened the list. 
Social media  bar at the bottom doesn't move when scrolling down the page, more likely to share. The Orion could attach a consistent social media bar as well, make it easier to share stories for visitors. 
Story headlines broken up so it doesn't look like a laundry list(2 stories side to side, then 4 on top of each other) The Orion- does it at the top of the app, so they could easily just continue that throughout. 
Can swipe from story to story very easily. The Orion- Add this to the app for easier transitions story to story.


1.) Make the app work for mobile browsers, the Buzzfeed mobile site is very user friendly for cell phones. (No huge banner at the top)
2.) More click bait. 
-"The Wildcats miss playoffs first time in 20 years." 
-"Professor fired?"
-"Sports team drinking?"
-"Six ways to success."
Chico State:
"How to rent like a pro."
"Babies who love boobs."
"Is Disney couples texted each other."
3.) Buzzfeed uses whole screen efficiently to the max. Our mobile app inefficiently uses our space and we only have a third of the stories in the same amount of space. Buzzfeed triples the amount of content in the same area.


-Layout: photos next to titles as opposed to on top of, we have a lot of dead space next to them (this depends on the browser, so consistency between browsers should be considered as well). The photos should either span the whole width (for special articles, or each section) or be smaller and to the side of the titles.
-To do this, we need more focus on featured photos: tighter crops and CONSISTENT aspect ratios. Editors should tell photographers which photos they want, and photographers can send them in the proper format, or they can take them from the server and do it themselves.
-Too much weird wasted space at the top, with a non-eyecatching logo. Put some color in "the orion" and combine or relocate the top drop down menu with the one below it, adding a title to it like: navigate.
-Varied content: put videos/galleries/stories/art in the sections they are relevant to, instead of by type of media...
On the app, put up a gallery of articles at the top.
Use picture galleries for stories such as take back the night.
Incorporate a rating system for articles and reviews. 


Business insider best features: 
Categories and sub categories (color coded) 
App has an instructive introduction that explains how to use features of the app
Article broken up into subsections with subtitles that help the reader jump to certain parts (there are also pictures throughout the article that break up the reading) 

How could the Orion be improved:
Subcategories on the mobile site and app 
Shrink articles so that more are visible on the screen at once 
Mobile site and app should look the same 


1. The teasers - are very informational and tell the reader exactly what is in the story; The Orion for example, we only have a teasers for a few stories on the front page. There's only a few with the stories at the top of the website
2. All the various sections are represented on the front page
3. Videos on the front page including the New Creepy Woody Allen Movie - There are no videos on the front page of The Orion website could've included a video from Take Back the Night. 


Navigation List - On Mashable, when the drop down menu is in use it remains static as well as the page while the Orion nav bar must be scrolled through.
Tabs - Mashable has tabs on the homepage which helps with variation and there is not as much scrolling.
Photos - Mashable has more photos inserted throughout the articles.


Hyperlinking - Vox news has a lot of hyperlinks in all of their stories. Specifically, The Orion could have provided more hyperlinks in the story about the school board. We could have linked to previous articles that The Orion has written or we could have linked to another news source. 
Multiple photos and videos/ story: Vox news has a lot of photos and videos spaced out in each of their stories. Specifically, The Orion could have spaced out the photos throughout the stories. The photo gallery is hard to navigate on a mobile device. 
Subheads: Vox uses a lot of subheads to break up stories. Specifically, The Orion could have provided more subheads (at least in the online version) to the student firefighter story. Feeding chunks of information to people makes them more inclined to read the whole thing. 

1. Put 2 stories per section (the best ones) on the front page of The Orion. The Orion lists a lot of ours after the main one in the browser, and in the app, the most recent is the only one highlighted, and all it gets is a bigger photo.
2. Bolder headlines in The Orion app and website. There are also no teasers to describe stories in the app. Also, better fonts.
3. Podcast/video tab. Slate has one in the app and The Orion doesn't have video or photo galleries in our app. Online, they are buried or hard to find unless highlighted that day. There's too much scrolling (this leads back to no. 1).
Feature: Title of website needs to be smaller.
-The vice homepage features a small box saying vice news. The Orions titles takes up half the page which could be better used with a picture or story title.
Feature: 2x2 stories.
-when you scroll down the vice page it has stories 2x2 the whole way down. You get more options and more page clicks. The orion is only 1x1 which limits page clicks and interest.
Feature: search bar.
-Vice has a tiny search bar at the top of the page for easy searching. you have to dig deep to find the search bar in the orion making it frustrating for the readers.


1. Personalized News Feed:
If The Orion had this option, readers would be able to follow up on a story.
2. Pull Quotes style:
It links you to the sources, the actual stories and other websites. Because the articles are made up of quotes, Circa uses these elements to draw readers in.
3.Draws You In:
Effective use of pictures, picture slideshows and infographics - this pulls the readers in. Or at the very least click on the story.

1. Uniform size headlines, cutlines and photos for each story
2. Multiple hyperlinks in each story and more than one photo in most of them
3. Options to share the story at the top of the article not the bottom


The best feature of NPR is the layout and how almost every title had a photo.  
A large variety of story genres including audio of some story articles. Easy navigation, clear and straight to the main news. 
The Orion could try and offer a different way of listing/labeling each section . 
They could have a top rated section of the news that is most popular. 
Have a settings option to make font bigger and image quality hd. 

So, what do you think? Which of these features should The Orion adopt? Could some of them happen right now?

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