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Advanced Fundamentals: UX, Case Study
At SVA, our course "Advanced UX Fundamentals" with VP of Design at The New York Times, Renda Morton assigned the opportunity to design a solution to several problematic themes from in-depth user research. Based on this research, my team chose to focus on the lack of inclusiveness and relatability experienced by users when reading the news. Our goal was to design a product that answers and solves this problem. We ultimately designed an app called NYT+ which allows users to curate their news content in accordance with their interests, as well as to engage in dynamic social experiences. 
The Problem

The New York Times needs to break away from its elitist image, as felt by many of its users. How we might make the news stories more relatable and to embrace a more inclusive audience? 

The Solution

We designed an app called NYT+ which allows users to curate their news based on their interests, as well as to follow journalists who write about favorite topics.

NYT+ would connect readers together and make their news experience more engaging.


User Interviews; User Testing; User Research & Site Analytics; Persona & Scenario Modeling; Brand Development; Wireframes; Prototype; Experience Design; Concept Design; Interaction Design; UX Strategy

In Collaboration w/

Paula Daneze


Design Researcher & Strategist

User Interviews

We conducted 15 qualitative interviews, speaking to New York Times subscribers and non-subscribers. In particular, we spoke a several undergraduate Graphic Design students at SVA. From our interviews with them, we were able to understand that the most engaging news content is presented in a fun, quick, visual and social way. People enjoy reading the news to start a conversation with their network either online or offline. Another key finding was that people feel connected to articles or news outlets when the topics covered relate to their lives and interests.

People see the NYTimes as a reliable source for news. Most users go to NYT for news only to see the front page or daily briefing, but for other topics of their interest, they read from other channels. This told us that social engagement change is crucial to increase the number of NYTimes subscribers.

Literature Review

Over the course of our research, we discovered the book "Millennials, News, and Social Media" written by former Los Angeles Times manager and executive Dr. Paula M. Poindexter. We found that making the news reading experience more social is necessary to care to develop young people into informed and civically engaged citizens.


Users of all ages who get the news either online, from apps, or social media.

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Users who read NYT occasionally to check the front page news, but don’t read other NYT sections.

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In targeting millennials, our design aimed to socialize the experience. We explored different touch points in the users food journey, two of which were primarily reading the news from a mobile device and the act of quickly checking updates on-the-go. Furthermore, we considered bringing media posts to the forefront, such as increasing easy access to podcasts, videos, and audio recordings.

User Journey Map
Competitive Analysis

Apple News

The Apple News app allows users to see News from all news channels based on their preferences and they also get push notifications. 


The Intercept

Below the title of the articles, The Intercept shows a photo of the writer, which makes the content more relatable to users as well as engaging. 


We examined many other news channels to build an understanding of the market landscape. We were intrigued how every article published on The Intercept is accompanied by a photo of the journalist. This evokes the feeling that the journalists are relatable human beings. The News App curates content based on the user's topics of choice. The minimal design of Instagram's profile pages also stood out to us. Furthermore, we thought Twitter's fast-paced exchange of tweets, retweets, and comments, among other interactions, created an addictively fun atmosphere. Lastly, Medium's empowerment of writers in highlighting their stories on the platform serves as an inspiration. 

In reflecting on our competitive analysis, we sought to design our app NYT+ with each examined news channel in mind, weaving in their successes and excluding their extraneous features to make the entire news reading experience more relatable, inclusive, and dynamic.

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Design Principles
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sketches by Paula Daneze

Our Solution

Our app “NYT Create” enables users to customize their news-reading experience. 

By allowing users to choose the topics or sections of their interest, we believe they will feel more connected with NYTimes. Based on our user research, we discovered that most users go to the NYTimes to read the top news only because the other potentially relatable content is not visible to them immediately on the front page. They make an extra effort to search for specific subjects of interest elsewhere. With NYT+ users would also be able to share news articles with one another and follow journalists.

Usability Testing

We tested out our prototypes with 5 users and gained lots of valuable insights that drove our proceeding iterations and the final design. However, we ran into a few problems in our first iteration. 

  1. It wasn’t clear that the first screen “Follow Your Stories” was for choosing the stories you want to follow.

  2. People didn't know that the first screen was to select multiple stories of interest at a time like the arts, travel, AND books. They thought it was just another layout to link to each category page of articles.

High-Fidelity Prototype
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Next Steps

We are currently in the process of presenting our app design to the design team at The New York Times for feedback, with the hope that our research focused around improving the inclusiveness and relatability experienced by users will also help inform the possibility of exploring similar future developments.

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