Rethinking & Rebuilding a Mobile Media Platform

National Post

by Postmedia

UX Design
App Blueprint
User Testing
iOS Development
Android Development

The Project

Built on the strength and tradition of the century-old Financial Post, Postmedia provides readers with comprehensive reporting from across Canada and around the world. In addition to the Financial Post, Postmedia runs a variety of media entities including sister brand the National Post, which delivers commentary on politics, culture, society, sports and more.

Old National Post App Screenshot
2010
New National Post App Screenshot

When Postmedia engaged us for a redesign of their various apps, they explained that they wanted to extend their rich tradition of design leadership from print and web to mobile. So we took the Postmedia team through our blueprint process, developed a strategy for success, user-tested our assumptions with real readers and used data-driven design to build apps for both Android and iOS.

The goal was clear: deliver a more immediate, in-depth, and customizable news experience with all the content and functionality that today’s online readers demand. And it had to be really fast.

The Challenge

This build wasn’t just for the National Post and Financial Post brands.

We had to create a mobile experience that could be implemented across all of Postmedia’s various brands on both iOS and Android.

Post

National
Post
Financial
Post

Broadsheet

Edmonton
Journal
Calgary
Herald
Ottawa
Citizen
Montreal
Gazette
Regina
Leader-Post
Saskatoon
Star Phoenix
Windsor
Star
Vancouver
Sun
London
Free Press

Tabloid

Winnipeg
Sun
Calgary
Sun
Edmonton
Sun
Toronto
Sun
Ottawa
Sun
The
Province
Canoe

To start, we focused on three market categories: Posts, Tabloids and Broadsheets, and gave them each very distinct user interface designs. We were tasked with rethinking the way Postmedia readers consume and share content to create a mobile platform that would ultimately increase engagement and retention.

Post
Post
Broadsheet
Broadsheet
Tabloid
Tabloid

Creating A Platform For Multiple Assets

As this code base needed to incorporate so many media products, it was important that our technical team collaborate closely with Postmedia. We combined our Android development skills and iOS development skills to identify a strategy that allowed us to host app configuration on the server side as well as share critical code between the two platforms to make for a more efficient and maintainable development process.

To date, we have deployed more than 18 iOS and 18 Android apps on this platform, and this number will continue to grow until the entire Postmedia catalog is leveraging it to share news with millions of readers around the globe.

Using Data To Guide Our Approach To Design

As we started the mobile app blueprint process, we knew it would be important to spend time understanding the behavior of the average Postmedia user. Actual user interactions with the various media apps combined with our own qualitative analysis, armed us with valuable insights to craft a data-informed app.

Our team is quite experienced in developing media-centric apps, but we always strive to innovate rather than rest on our laurels. We reviewed Postmedia’s original apps and the in-app analytics to gain insight into what would make for a better experience. Using this information, we iterated on sketches and wireframes to showcase the ideal user workflow:

Embracing Tab Navigation

In 2015, Luke Wroblewski wrote a great blog post about how tempting it is to rely on menu controls in order to simplify mobile interfaces. To wit, he revealed the prevalence of hamburger menus over tab navigation in mobile apps. The hamburger menu is common among media sites, but in our experience it can reduce engagement. So we opted for tab navigation for this project to ensure that engagement would not only increase with the redesign but that there would be ways to surface new content and features in the future.

Providing Easy Access To Key Sections

Our studies also found that media publishers often make the mistake of leaving out important subsections from their apps. We analyzed positive and negative reviews on various media apps and found that those who solely offered top stories on their mobile apps often had one- or two-star ratings. Thus, even though subsections may make up less than 20% of overall traffic, they are just as important to users as trending stories. We used this insight to ensure that key sections were readily accessible throughout the entire experience for all Postmedia apps.

Post
Before
Broadsheet
Wireframe
Tabloid
After

Creating An Experience For Different Screens

The media industry was built on the back of newspapers—an experience that many still crave even though we live in a pixel-first and swipe-rather-than-flip driven world. Devices like iPads offer this lean back experience that resembles a more traditional form of media consumption. It’s a more immersive way to consume stories and a great way to consume rich content like video and images. Recognizing that a significant percentage of readers still prefer this format, it was important that we developed an iPad experience that was compelling and captivating.

Ensuring Seamless In-App Social Media Integration

We had to make sure that Postmedia readers could share content on social media with ease. So we built the platform to integrate directly with the Facebook and Twitter API to make social sharing as seamless as possible.

News Feed Screenshot

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