Each night broadcast producers and newspaper designers create customized media products for news consumers. Never will that night’s newscast or morning’s newspaper look quite the same; because each day the news is different and therefore the journalists must make different editorial choices.

But the newscast and newspaper still end up looking the same for every customer — whether that news product is reaching several hundred or several million customers.

The promise of digital journalism is the possibility that every product is different, ‘designed’ specially for that user. Newscaster, the on-demand, user-driven video newscasts shown across a range of mobile and tablet devices must solve this problem to be successful. It is critical that the system derive a high degree of customization, but essential that the tool supply a highly-designed experience.

Jesse James Garrett explained how to design for a customizable user experience in the second week of the Knight-Mozilla Learning Lab.

“Rather than defining a singular experience, it’s about defining a rule set, parameters of a system by which customization happens. Lump of Clay vs a set of legos,” said Garrett. “Clay can create a complex, nuanced result but requires more skill. With Legos anyone can make anything right away. Lego set has rules by which pieces connect — scaffolding for users to simplify creation process. Shifts experience from delivery of a defined thing to delivering an embedded rule set.”

This concept of designing rules rather than shared, traditional visual experiences fits into Garrett’s much broader view of user experience design. He looks beyond the traditional roles of graphic artist and user experience designer to embrace higher level design thinking.

This framework allows the creation of sophisticated media design experiences — whether those experiences are singular, shared moments like those highly art directed digital stories produced by The Bold Italic or highly personalized and customized experiences like Flipboard offers to tablet users.

For a project like Newscaster to be a successful experience it will have to function successfully across Garett’s range of experience design. Creating a strategic experience framework that is similar for all users but with an incredibly flexible structure and skeleton that can adapt to the frictionless, content customization needed to fit news consumer’s needs and tastes.

Author: JeremyGilbert

As Deputy Editor, Digital for the National Geographic Society, Jeremy oversees editorial, missions-based and advertising storytelling on National Geographic's digital platforms. Before coming to the Society he was an associate professor teaching media product design, interactive storytelling, web and print design tools and techniques for Medill and the Segal Institute of Design at Northwestern University. He also served in the Medill administration as the Director of Technology and Space Design. Previously Jeremy led The Poynter Institute in rethinking and redesigning its industry leading website and served as an art director at a couple of newspapers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *