Kids News website tablet mock up by Caitlin Robinson

Kids News


News Corp

What I did

Art direction, Design, Information Architecture, User testing, Stakeholder workshops, Ethnographic study, Field study, User interviews

Project Summary

A stand-alone children news website that could be used as a teaching aid. Utilising News Limited's news room, but produced in a kid-friendly manner with customised learning modules that compliment the primary school English curriculum.

Due to confidentiality not all details and processes can be disclosed
Kids News Homepage Mock

The challenge

Our education editors had identified that teachers were after a kid-friendly method of including the news in their curriculum. They often wanted to discuss with chidren current events or news articles - however found that news sites and articles themselves contained inappropriate adult content. The technical restraints were that it needed to link into our current editorial infrastructure for editors and authors to publish, and have a seperate advertising kit (as it would only serve select kid-friendly ads and be out of the ad-served range that the other News Sites were under)

What we found

Teaming up with the Education Editor and Lifetyle Editor we started off by workshopping the current user journeys of teachers based on the insights they had. Working out an as-is and to-be journey gave us a hypothetical starting point that we wanted to validate. Using a pool of 8 schools (and 8 teachers)I began ethnographic research including field research, diary studies and user interviews to develop a better understanding of their motivations and pain points. Through this we uncovered that the teachers would typically present to the class on a smart whiteboard. If they were planning the class it was done on their tablet or desktop and very rarely a mobile device. They would use one article max per day and weren't necessarily searching for new or "breaking" news like our typical adult News Limited readers - they were looking for articles of certain categories or certain time periods.

Design Execution and Validation

I created frameworks and prototypes to share the vision, design principles and content strategy. I defined the product with the editorial team, project managers and scoped the techical feasibility with the development/product team. I advocated customer goals and balanced business goals. I negotiated and prioritised features for launch and beyond. Re-using existing design frameworks from another stand-alone News Limited site also reduced the production effort. With clearly defined personas and user journeys we established that there would be three main categories - "news", "light and bright" and "sport". Rather than having three distinct index pages we chose to use filters and have asynchronous pages. I chose this pattern to compliment the styles of interaction we had - searching for a particular category, a particular level or from a particular time - or any combination of the three. Through interviews we discovered that dividing articles into reading levels based on grade or year was not the best approach. Teachers provided the insights that students in their grade 4 year could have the reading level of a more advanced grade 6 student, or they could be as basic as a grade 2. Having year level rating would be discouraging to the more rudamentary students, so the traffic light system of "easy", "medium" and "hard" was implemented. While more detailed design and development work was underway we did a soft launch with an MVP- testing the content and the learning activities.

The outcome

Working with an unsual structure that departed from the MVP (the MVP due to technical limitations had standard index pages rather than filters) our goal was to see not how quickly the users completed testing tasks the first time around - but how learnable the product was and how quickly they performed subsequent tasks. We gleaned that the product was extremely learnable for both adults and children. With competiting projects within the business there was a fair amount of downgrading and feature prioritisation - however having workshopped this with the essential stakeholders and influencers in the business we were all aligned with the future development of the product. Of the 30 trial schools 28 have continued and at the end of 2017 there were more than a thousand interested schools enquiring about signing on for a full release of the site.

Learnability graph of kids news testing - shows downward trend - quite learnable
Learnabiity graph from user testing prototype