New York Times for Students' goal is to increase digital subscribers for the New York Times and cement better news consumption habits for highschool students

Context
Academic Directed Studies
Fall 2017

Contributions
User Experience

Visual Design
Interaction Design

Collaborators
Summer-Lee Schoenfeld
Sonia Yau

Academic case study

New York Times for Students

Cementing better news consumption habits for highschool students

New York Times for Student is a proposed digital service for senior high school students provided alongside the "Sponsor A Subscription" program. This digital extension delivers a new format for long-form journalism, in order to increase New York Time's digital subscription and improve media literacy among young reader.

Extending the NYT's Strategy

In Journalism That Stands Apart, The New York Time’s stated goal is to increase their digital revenue from $500 million to $800 million by 2020, so that they can fully support themselves through their digital subscription model without having to rely on their physical print-first strategy. In order to achieve this goal, the New York Times will have to continue to attract a new realm of digital subscribers.

“For all the progress we have made, we still have not built a digital business large enough on its own to support a newsroom that can fulfill our ambitions. To secure our future, we need to expand substantially our number of subscribers by 2020.”

New York Times (2017)

Sponsor a Subscription Program

In early 2017, the New York Times started the “Sponsor a Subscription” program which currently provides 1.3 million high school students with free subscriptions to the NYT so that they can have access to high quality journalism for school. Since this is this the first time students are introduced to the New York Times, our team identified this touchpoint as an opportunity where we can make long-form journalism more of compelling experience for students in order to encourage them to become long-term subscribers after they graduate. 

Business driven value

this touchpoint provides an opportunity to evoke an initial sense of curiosity about the news and encourage students to become full time readers and digital subscribers

Human centered value

this touchpoint provides an opportunity to cement better news consumption habits and improve news literacy for senior high school students

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Guiding Principles

Cementing Better News Consumption Habits

During this touchpoint where students are interacting with the New York Times for the first time, we have an opportunity to develop an experience that can help earlier cement better news consumption habits. Our team defined these specific habits that we wanted to encourage as the guiding principles that would inform our design decisions. 

Evaluating Sources

Evaluate background and sources to validate journalistic credibility

Understanding Context

Promote engagement with long-form content to better understand details and context

Promoting Journalistic Diversity

Encourage exploring a variety of sources to view different perspectives

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Discovery Screens

Executing the Strategy

Journalism as a digital service for students

The sponsor a subscription program provides high school students with full access to the New York Times for  research. Therefore we decided to use the existing New York Times app as an entry-point for our service which provides a new format for students to learn more about curated historical topics and current events that correlate with specific subjects within the US high school curriculum. 

“Charlottesville teaches us about politics, civics, sociology, history, the human condition and social media. I don’t know how I can be an educator and in good conscience not put this conversation in front of my students.”

Eric Bishop | US High-school Teacher

Timeline Screens

Streamlining Content through a Timeline

In order to increase the perceived value of reading long-form journalism for students, we wanted reimagine the experience of how stories can be told in a digital format. We decided to use a visual storytelling approach and a timeline format that allows us to stitch different articles and forms of content into a comprehensive story. Stitching the content through a visual timeline allows us to...

Organize and chunk content

Connect different forms of content, such as visual, audio, and videos, to tell a more compelling and comprehensive story

Organize article into sub-points yet maintains its overall long form format

Connect different forms of content

Connect different forms of content, such as visual, audio, and videos, to tell a more compelling and comprehensive story

Access full NYT articles

Provide an entry point into the New York Times full length articles

Timeline Interaction

Providing Timeline Flexibility

In order to increase the perceived value of reading long-form journalism for students, we wanted reimagine the experience of how stories can be told in a digital format.

The timeline allows students to flow through a story at their own pace through main points and sub points that act as potential entry-points into the full articles. The format also  provides a structure for telling the news that helps us develop trust by reinforcing visual evidence of events that happened within the story.

Article Interaction

Evaluating Journalistic Credibility

Instead of simply claiming an article is credible, we wanted to inform students on how to evaluate credibility by providing reminders on how to evaluate journalistic credibility.

We decide to design the reminders so that they don't require any intentional interaction to be triggered because we acknowledged  that  students are unlikely to trigger an interaction for information they are not intentionally seeking out Therefore, the reminders seamlessly are shown as the student reads the article in an non-intrusive manner, by subtlety highlighting the related sections that correlate to the journalistic credibly reminders.

Context Cards

Interweaving Historical Context

Instead of simply claiming an article is credible, we wanted to inform students on how to evaluate credibility by providing reminders on how to evaluate journalistic credibility.

We decide to design the reminders so that they don't require any intentional interaction to be triggered because we acknowledged  that  students are unlikely to trigger an interaction for information they are not intentionally seeking out Therefore, the reminders seamlessly are shown as the student reads the article in an non-intrusive manner, by subtlety highlighting the related sections that correlate to the journalistic credibly reminders.

Contribution Screens

Opportunity to Contribute

The depressing nature of current events is a friction that  deters many students from consistently  following the news. While we can’t change the reality of the events that have happened, we can inform students on how they can contribute in order to empower them to believe that  they do have agency to provide change. At the end of every timeline students are provided an opportunity to learn more on how they can contribute to the specific problems within the stories they have read.

"I felt completely lost following a story I just didn’t have the time or context needed to really get [the news] . And at others, I felt numb, in a sort of haze of - I know a little bit about a lot of unpleasant things and have no agency to do anything about them."

Jihii Jolly (Journalist)

Reflection

For More Process...

I am currently in the process of updating this case study, but if you would like to know more about the different iterations that the project went through, I would be more than happy to discuss it in an interview. For now here is the full slide deck presentation of the project.

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Michael Lo — Digital Product Designer

Open to new opportunities
vvichael@gmail.com

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