Project: Understand Millennial audiences’ digital needs and design powerful news products for them.
People: Subscribers and non-subscribers of The New York Times ages 18 to 35; design, newsroom and product teams.
I joined the Times to elicit insights into our readers’ lives and needs. As a former reporter turned design researcher, I wanted to help advocate for readers who might benefit from our world class journalism. I joined and subsequently led an effort to interview 45 young news consumers. Some of the Millennials we met were willing to pay for our apps and digital access, but many weren't.
I wanted to better understand their decision making and brought a documentary videographer to visit nine interviewees for extended sessions. In going to their homes and accompanying them throughout their days, we were able to better understand their media habits, cost considerations, and interactions with news sources while commuting. The resulting production was an internal 15-minute film that highlighted non-subscribers’ behaviors and helped shape product outreach and UX strategy. My directors and I presented to masthead leaders, section editors, and reporters, several of whom subsequently commissioned user research work.
The Millennial insights project represented our entry into ethnographic methods, which I was excited to expand upon with research into breaking news moments (an undertaking that was detailed recently by the Columbia Journalism Review). My additional work at the NYT included:
Serving as the staff liaison between our qualitative research group and Newsroom Strategy teams;
Planning and carrying out project-appropriate research methodologies, including interviews, participatory design exercises, card sorting, and diary studies (as described in this Nieman Lab article);
Managing usability testing across mobile designs, home page prototypes, and interactive news tools for producers. This included developing discussion guides, planning site intercept testing, and moderating sessions using generative exercises where applicable;
Analyzing themes with design and product teams. We jointly identified possibilities for prototypes and products and developed workshops to share our findings with the wider organization.
I collaborated closely with data analysts, designers, developers, product managers, and editors to conceive of and create tools for vastly improved experiences. At the Times I brought a storyteller’s sensibility, a rigorous approach to delivery, and an emphasis on usability and usefulness for diverse groups.