Reimagining the public's intake of news to better integrate into our fast-paced and personalized lives.
Role: UI/UX Designer
Duration: 12 weeks
According to internal Forbes analytics, 70 million of their users only read one article every month. They came to us asking us to reimagine an experience that drives new users and promotes increased return visits. We had 12 weeks.
To get a better sense of how users consume other sources of media and what keeps them coming back, I began by surveying 40 people. Here are some of the most influential questions.
29 People - I am interested in the content.
17 People - I want to obtain something in return.
14 People - I was recommended by a friend.
20 People - Occasionally
17 People - Often
Most people also brought up a fear of social ridicule that comes along with social media on social platforms. Users express fear of tarnishing their public image, negative comments, etc.
Once the sharing was brought to my attention, I did a bit of research on what makes social media so addictive. Overall, I found users are attracted to the feelings of validation and interconnectivity to a wide audience. According to a psychological principle called The Reciprocity Effect, users feel obligated to give back to people that have given to them, even in small ways. This is part of what makes social media so addictive.
From this, my initial solution was to create specialized communities where users can share Forbes content and achieve a sense of interconnectivity without the fear of social ridicule.
My initial wireframes explored how new users would enter the Forbes site, how to direct them to the communities, and how the communities would function.
Who makes the communities?
How might one eliminate cyber-bullies, and ensure the facilitation of a positive digital environment?
How is this different from curating articles for a user based on topics?
I began by doing a competitive analysis of other companies, services, and products that utilize communities succesfully.
Sephora utilizes a group homepage to allow the user to browse the wide variety. They also have discussion functionality within the communities, and tags for trending topics to allow for quick browsing.
InVision is a closed group to maintain a level of professionalism, but makes a point to show the outside community who the members are for transparency.
Dribbble utilizes a meetup homepage to promote a sense of community that extends past just the browser. They have a preview of upcoming meetups to peak interest and encourage participation.
I also returned to the original survey that Forbes provided to us during the project brief. I discovered that there was a polarizing image associated with the brand itself.
The common positive words used to describe the brand were “professional, informative, mature, and reliable”.
The common negative words used to describe the brand were
“stuffy, pretentious, elitist, and overwhelming”.
I took this second research phase as a chance to redefine my problem.
How might we make Forbes more welcoming and engaging to users, without losing the brand’s reliability?
Friendly, Approachable, Collaborative
Restructuring the header allows for a more streamlined navigation system highlighting the unique components of Forbes, and more intuitive integration of Forbes Communities. Allowing for an expandable menu utilizes progressive disclosure. This eliminates overwhelming content.
Allowing users to see the members in the community as well as recent posts eliminates the illusion of pretentious content. Limiting access to only preview mode creates incentive for new users to sign up. Requiring admin approval keeps the level of professionalism that the Forbes brand carries.
Active users get full access to the Community. They can create their own content, interact with top posts, preview their last read, and see any recent activity in the group.
To promote repeated community engagement*, full members have the ability to follow other members and be notified when they post. Hovering over a profile will display the member’s information.
*This ties back to the Reciprocity Effect from social media engagement. One follow incentivizes a follow back, and so on.
Communities are all about bringing people together. Promoting Forbes events, creating group meet-ups, and allowing for an easy RSVP process means extending the professional relations beyond what’s on the screen. One-click RSVP helps facilitate easier meetups and events.
This project was a fun challenge full of many pivotal moments that forced me really consider how relationships and user engagement are fostered in a digital world.