BBC News’s Research & Development team has been doing a great job during the last year, trying to find innovative formats to deliver the news online. The project was especially meant to improve how their journalism relates to their ‘least-engaged’ audiences (Generation Z and women between 28-45 years old).
Among the many formats tested, two stood out and are now used live on BBC News’s website :
– ‘Expander’ provides more context inside the article by highlighting keywords and showing inline definitions when you click on it. Here is an example where it is used (a lot).
– ‘Incremental’ is a module that lets you choose your preferred type of content, depending on your tastes and background knowledge on the matter. You can quickly switch between a short paragraph, a longer explainer or a video, for example. That is useful for footnote-style explainers, but design-wise I feel like the current layout gets too much in the way of the reading experience. Here is an example, on the bottom of the page.
What’s maybe most interesting is the whole user research & testing process that fueled the project. Finally some design thinking meant to improve digital news storytelling, and not only usability! Our news consumption habits are rapidly changing, in an increasingly tricky environment (information overload, disinformation, distrust towards the media) but too few publishers seem to grasp the challenge. BBC News is investing in no-bullshit design thinking and, for that, it deserves applause.