Context

Rather generally, my work focused on creating accessible and adaptable online news consumption experiences.

I was fortunate enough to be able to combine my Computer Science skills and interest in emerging technologies with my desire to explore the current state of accessibility in our online experiences!

Problem

During my initial explorations, I identified three key problems with the current online news consumption experience:

  1. Overwhelming UI
  2. Non-inclusive design
  3. Outdated UI

Personas

 

To put the current news consumption experience in a more relatable context, I created several personas to demonstrate the different environments, devices, and use cases for which people might consume news.

 

 

 

Initial Research

Before diving into design, I set out to understand current state of online news consumption experiences by 1) talking to people and 2) looking at existing products.

1) Talking to people

Two key insights arose from my initial conversations with people:

  1. Users primarily consume news for conversational / socializing purposes.
  2. Current news interfaces are distracting and cause users to lose focus and/or forget tasks

2) Examining existing consumption tools

 

Some products, like Facebook, approach news consumption from the perspective of an interpersonal standpoint by integrating their news with social media. Other products like Snapchat make use of various psychological tactics to keep their users' focus on the content at hand. Still, some others like the New York Times and Microsoft Edge's new tab page simply organize content in an intuitive manner.

 

Step 1:
How can we improve the accessibility and adaptability of existing news UI?

 

Based on my findings, I decided to approach my designs through two constraints: firstly, online news consumption should be inclusive of and accessible to individuals with cognitive disabilities. Secondly, such an interface should be easily adaptable across different technological devices as a nod to the ecosystem of devices that we now live in.

Hypotheses

I proceeded to create two hypotheses based on two key pillars of cognitive learning: focus and memory.

  1. An interface that emphasizes the user's place in a given piece of news will allow for increased focus and comprehension.
  2. An interface that condenses information in an individual news will increase the inclusivity and accessibility of online news.

Iterations and Feedback

With these hypotheses as my starting point, I then began creating low-fidelity wireframes of UI features that addressed positionality, context, and summarization of information.

 

I then began weighing the pros and cons of each iteration, slowly narrowing down my designs to a handful that I proceeded to create low-fidelity prototypes of in Axure. See them in action here !

 

 

Finally, based on the feedback I received from my prototypes and further discussions with individuals, I combined the different interface features into a single interface that serves as one potential way we might go about designing more inclusive online news consumption experiences.

The high fidelity prototypes were created in Framer JS and can be found here!

I then began to think more about how I could apply the insights and learnings I had gained from the union of inclusive design and current news consumption interfaces to newer technologies.

Step 2:
How can we seamlessly integrate news consumption into people's daily activities, in the context of new technologies?

 

Considering how hard it is to get through a typical day even without consuming any news, I began thinking about how we could rethink the news consumption experience as an augment to individual's daily lives, rather than another obligation to be completed.

Hypothesis:

An AI-backed, contextual assistant will create a more relevant, usable news consumption experience.

I arrived at this hypothesis after some experience mapping, storyboarding, and classifying different daily actions according to the amount of cognitive load that would be required to perform each task.

 

 

Solution: A contextualized, AI-backed assistant

 

People consume the news primarily for social interactions, as was observed during my initial research and user studies. The implication of this is that news serves as a social "crutch" of sorts that we can rely on to give us credibility and motivation to move forwards.

What if we were to apply the analogy of news as a social "crutch" to more scenarios and use cases beyond having conversations with friends, family, and coworkers? What if news could help inform us on all the decisions we make daily, and even prevent us from making grossly wrong ones?

With the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, it made sense to me that we could easily link and sync the events in an individual's life to the events that are happening in the world.

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

As another one of my final deliverables, I also created an online toolkit that covers many of the cognitively inclusive design principles that I uncovered during my internship project.

There were definitely a lot of things that I wished I could have taken a closer look at, but for the purposes of setting constraints around my work and finishing everything in the span of three months, weren't feasible to include! Some of these facets are:

If you're interested in chatting about my work and / or inclusive design in general, I'd love to hear from you. :) Otherwise, thanks for reading!