Branding and Mobile App Design.
The app you need to discover the best journalism from the publishers you trust.
Compass News strived to revolutionise the news industry by designing the world’s fastest way to keep up to date. A journalism platform where what you see is determined by quality as defined by professional editors, not by how many times it has been liked or shared. Just as though you have your own personal journalist on hand at all times, ready to explain what’s going on in the world.
I joined Compass News in July 2017. For a year and a half, I spearheaded the product design, branding and founders support. I was part of several features ideation and we were on the path of fixing the news industry, operating in Europe and the US.
The Problem
September 4th 1998 was the day when Google Inc. officially came into existence. They settled on online advertising as the best way to move forward. Sadly for the newspaper industry, it relied on the pockets of advertisers. Advertisers who until very recently had been their best customers. To make matters even worse, fewer and fewer young people thought buying newspapers was a good way to spend their money. 
With social media feeds favouring clickbait over quality content, it has become almost impossible to discover the topics which really matter. The result? Seeing more than one high-quality perspective has become impossible. Fitting in time to read 20 articles each day just isn’t practical for most people — and yet there is more journalism being produced than at any other time in history. This means that loads of great journalism goes unread every day.
Key Responsibilities
Product Design: Generate UX flows and wireframes. Identifying new product opportunities. Low and high fidelity prototyping and user testing. Analyse how new features tie in with product needs and consumer preferences. Setting design requirements based on briefs from internal stakeholders. Assuring build feasibility.
Branding: Combine marketing and graphic design to create visual materials that represent a company. Analyze market trends. Design and produce materials to satisfy business needs. Define visual interface design: colour palette, branding, general visual aesthetics etc.
Project Goal
To build a world-leading news app that users were willing to pay for, supporting a subscription business model. Promote lasting readers habits. Increase long-term retention. Contribute to a better-informed society.
We researched the habits of young people such as international university students, to see how this would fit into their lifestyle rather than just forcing our app upon them. We focused on how people check news currently and found out their main sources of information are: Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, random news on the radio and their own social circle. With mobile phones being the centre of their information we identified they used this device during key moments of their day, i.e. after waking up, meals, commute, coffee break, waiting for meetings or before bed. Usually, "Users didn’t understand the article because they don’t know the entire story".
Our Proposal
Create a feed of quality journalism and make it accessible to as many people as possible. Make it possible to consume the feed in the shortest possible amount of time.
To combat the amount of reading time required, we understood the need to curate and generate article summaries. Sustaining growth with this model would not be possible from a human curator’s output, therefore we trained an algorithm to curate articles and generate summaries automatically for us.
Ideation and Validation
We came up with many different iterations for various new features. Our focus was to solve one small problem at a time, validate the solution and stack all of them in a product that serves the user, and company goals. We tested these ideas with our students to understand which of those iterations fitted better in their life​​​​​​​
Final Prototype
After our validation conclusions, we came up with a quick headlines mode and two different feeds for our app.
Headlines: Story-style feed where users receive a summary of text auto-generated by our algorithm. By swiping up in each story the user can access the full article and the timeline behind the story.
Personalised Feed: This would ask the user preferences such as article tone, topics or how much time they have. Based on this, the personalised feed could be adapted for the usage.
Automatic Feed: This feed served curated articles to the users from our algorithm.
Based on the interviews with participants and research, we discovered that young people want to be informed but are not willing to spend their time to do so. This means young people would use this app only if it fitted into their lifestyle and schedule.
What I Could Do Better
Select a wider range of participants for the discovery phase. Prioritise usability test over the road map. Working with tighter deadlines so I would not deviate with new features from the road map.
This project gave me a deeper understanding of the design process. Also, the experience to prioritise on a road map and understand how important it is for a startup to factor in time. I learned the importance of jumping into a new field with an open mind and to be curious about every detail, thinking about the limitations and asking the right questions.
Working closely with developers allowed me to learn about feasibility. Equally, having the opportunity to work so closely with our co-founders taught me the lengthy process of fully understanding your user and gave me a global vision of leading a startup.
Compass News new logo
Compass News new logo
Learn more about the project.
Compass News: How we built an AI editor that makes millennials smarter, quicker.
CompassNews Feb 28, 2018 · 6 min read
Matter VC. A Matter. Driven Narrative.

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