media startup company
seoul, south korea
3 members including a journalist, ux/ui designer, and a programmer
Meanit is a crowdsourced news platform based on trending keywords and neologisms mainly targeted to the age of 17-25. This service picks out and displays on its main page a few Today's It ('Words of the Day’), a set of vocabulary that is trending in Naver news (Korean online web portal) and Twitter trends. Users can freely add their own definitions or any new vocabulary, describing their understanding of the word’s context in various formats like brief text within 200 characters, links to articles or editorials, embedded tweets, and YouTube videos, and memes. Users will be able to see how people comprehend certain terms, different definitions of the same word, and even track the change of people’s understanding over the course of time—all of which will assist users to digest the intricate news.
The service was launched last summer, and under the company name of Laze & Gist, it recieved an investment of $40,000 from a media start-up accelerator, Mediati.
The design process follows the Double Diamond Model. Each process contains multiple layers of iterations and diverse design methods from generative to evaluative approaches for every level of fidelity. The most important aspect for this project is to understand the target audience and spotting on the right problem.
"Why do the millennials often skip to read the news?
More specifically, why are young readers, even those who wish to find out more about
actual politics, profoundly discouraged to read political news?
1 Legacy media is unable to meet the millennials' needs and wants
2 millennials have their original motivation in consuming or using news
The very first thing to discuss before designing anything should answer "why this?" The following line is the summary agenda question we brought up:
Both paper research and user surveys are used to derive insights about the main problems of millennials' current news consumption characteristics and their specific pain points. Below is the summed-up analysis of the problems we defined as the most frequent and important to note before designing solutions.
How millennials consume media contents are drastically different from other generation. Not only are they used to get exposed to information overload in 24 hours, but also they consume most of contents through different channels. Because of this, they tend to get attracted to titles, simple text lines, usually coming with visual elements such as pictures and videos. All these also lead to the common notion that they have short-attention span. However, most of the legacy media contents hardly consider these characteristics. Most of the articles are full of rampant use of jargons and complex context often hard to follow up with every piece of information.
According to the research (Kyunghee Kim et al) we took reference to, there have been changes in motivation for news users over times with the technological development. In the past, many people remain as audience usually seeking for information, topics for conversation, or just interest in news. This model has developed into an motivation as a sympathizer who wish to increase their self-esteem, build special relationship with journalist, or even use it as a social tool by consuming news. Lastly, people are tend to be motivated not only as a consumer, but also as a producer in news. This model appears in civil journalism often. However, nowadays, especially amongst millennial generation, these models are all appeared as a combination. On the other hand, no news media satisfies the millennials' original characteristics as news users - audience, sympathizer, producer. Right now, social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat are the main channels where millennials can execute their multi-facet characteristics as news users.
After researching , I came up with final three clusters of target users. Each persona presents his/her characteristics, goals, and frustration in terms of the common agenda of millennials and political news. The three personas each represent the main problems and needs of the possible target audience.
The target user and their pain points have the following characteristics:
1 They are millennial generation - specifically, age 18-25
2 Occasionally they read news and have interests or at least desire to know about what's going on
3 The often feel distressed by the rampant use of perplexing jargons used in political news are frustrating.
4 Also, to them, some long-term issues are difficult to keep track - once you miss it, you lose it.
5 TLDR; reading or watching all those news articles are too heavy and tedious - time consuming!
6 They LOVE to share and know what others - their age - think about the controversial issues, and that's how they find relevance to certain topics.
The final design solution was based on answering the main problems we derived from research. Below is the list of the key elements devised to solve user's main pain points. Before the final version, first prototype was suggested, and after user test, several updates were made.
1 Dictionary Format
To solve the problem that most of the frustration is caused by perplexing terms rampantly presented in articles, the basic format of the application is following dictionary outline where users can take a look or search key words they want to learn or know more.
2 200 Words Rule
Also, another main obstacle is that most of the articles and news are too long and boring. Therefore, all the contents - here, mostly the definition of each keyword - are restricted to 200 words to avoid any troubles or frustration caused by short-attention span.
Our target users love to see and share what they think, especially, those with their age. Also, the target user group in South Korea is very active in online community, and it is considered as the source of their unique, original culture. Therefore, allowing those users to be the producer of the contents can be a key attraction points for the target group we are aiming for. Not only do they know the language that appeals to each other, it also can satisfy their needs to be creators therefore helping them to find relevancy to other users and even news topics.
4 Reaction System
Users are allowed to react to each post. However, what's unique in Meanit is that its use of 'ㅋ' - a Korean consonant character often used online to express joy, sympathy, etc. Users are allowed to use multiple (up to 50) 'ㅋ' to show their reaction to certain definition.
5 Curation System
Users are able to see key word groups each composed of words belong to the topics such as Olympics, Presidential Election 2017, etc. Here, users are able to see no only the meaning of each words, but also how each word is related to others, therefore helping them to understand the relationship and overall context of certain issues.
low-fidelity mockup and rapid prototype for v1
The first version was created with based on a low-fidelity mockup model using a paper and pencil. Then, based on the rough structure, the prototype model was developed with main features of the service implemented. The purpose of the prototype v1 is to test whether the key features of the application meets the target users' needs.
wireframe & user flow
Based on the insights gained from the first user test, there was a big change in overall design. In response to user's need to see what's most popular and important to know, we changed the search-based format to search & curated list of words so that users can right away have things to take a peek once they land on our website. Also, the reaction system changed from mere up&down to 'ㅋ' to increase engagement through interest and fun.
user test - survey & contextual inquiry
User test for the final prototype was conducted with 24 people (female 11, male 13). Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used; for quantitative, I conducted user survey based on Peter Morville's Honeycomb Model, and for qualitative, I used heuristic evaluation method to make an observation and conduct in-depth interviews.
The survey was to measure whether Meanit is useful, usable, attractive, accessible, searchable, and credible. According to the results, attractiveness got the highest rating (average 3.8) including most of the rating scale above 3.5 out of 5. The lowest rating was the credibility (2.5 out of 5)
Meanit certainly satisfies the needs of the target audience in a way that it satisfies the basic wants - it is fun to use, and informative in some ways to gain the current trending issues among the group. However, it still needs to find out the way to enhance its credibility. Since it is crowdsource-based, there is no system to gate-keep false or even offending contents. Right now, Meanit has 'report' option for every post with which all users are welcome to report whatever posts that's contrary to facts or abusive. When certain post gets more than 5 reports, the post is automatically shunned from public view. However, there still needs a way to filter the information other than report system.