We designed a news website that people want to read.
This is an in-house project.
We redesigned the editorial column of Netease News to offer a more interactive and profound reading experience.
The new design was favored by users and boosted the average web page traffic by 750%.
I led the design process and determined key features.
Jan - Nov 2017
Casey Wu (me)
Hui Ma (UI designer)
The quantity and quality of the audience cannot meet the requirement of the business.
We seek to expand the reach of the column and attract a larger audience.
We designed supportive features to make articles in the column easier to understand and more convenient to share.
In order to understand what users need, we conducted user research.
Web Analysis: Tracking website activity for the previous 6 months.
Online Survey: Recruiting existing users and got more than 8000 responses.
Discussion Board: Initiating a non-structured group discussion and received more than 10,000 comments.
We identified three main problems of the old column.
69% of users need to search for the meaning of certain words while reading.
Too long to finish
47% of users seldom finished the whole article.
Less than 19% of the website traffic came from social media.
We also need to know the business goals and limitations, so we interviewed stakeholders.
Marketing team: "We need a larger and more diverse audience."
Editorial team: "The quality of articles should not be compromised."
To satisfy both users and stakeholders and find the best balance between them,
we came up with several ideas and narrowed them down to three new features.
Terminologies in articles will be explained in pop-ups.
There will be a timeline to summarize each article.
Sticky Social Media Bar
Social media buttons will stick to the right side of the screen.
Here's how the three features look like on the website.
Hover your mouse on the word, a pop-up will tell you what it means.
Users no longer need to interrupt their reading and search.
On the left, we show you a timeline of the article. All the logics and summaries are here.
If users don't have 5 minutes for the article, they must at least have 1 minute for the timeline.
Sticky Social Media Bar
Social media buttons stay on the right.
Users can share the articles with friends at any stage of the reading.
The new design was favored by users and received positive feedback.
Users commented that the new web page was "good-looking" and "easy to use."
The average web page traffic was boosted by 750%, growing from 70,000 views to 600,000 views per article per month.
You can visit the website here.
What I learned
Users don't always know what they want, but they usually know what they don't want. The purpose of user research is to find out what users really want without them telling us.
Communicating with the stakeholders about their business goals is essential. It helps with drawing the boundaries and directions of the design.
Disagreements are inevitable. It's important to keep in mind that we are working towards a common goal, and sometimes better solutions appear in arguments.