Writing for the web – take 2
ITV’s news website is causing a bit of a buzz. It’s worth a visit because the people who designed it, Made by Many, set out to take a fresh look at the way people want to get information and create a design that would work for them.
The resulting ITV website looks different to other news websites, because says William Owen the designer, people want to be able to follow a story.
We hate the visual and conceptual complexity of many news websites and we know users do too because we’ve found it so in testing. Our quest for simplicity was sharpened by focusing on two basic and related use cases: “As a user, I want to know what the world’s talking about today”, and: “As a user, I want to follow the big stories through the day across devices wherever I am”. This was why filtering was so important: “just show me updates on Phonehacking…Syria…Soapstar murder…Cup Final – whichever stories I’m interested in.
It comes back to the devices people are using. More people are getting their news on mobiles and tablets. In the US, a study on the state of journalism by the Pew Research Center found that 27% of people now get their news on mobile devices.
One of the reasons that writing for the web is different to writing for print is because people are reading from a computer screen. Mobile devices are changing the game again. On mobile phones particularly, a blog-like list is easier to use than a more traditonal site. And you can see the influence of Twitter and Facebook on the ITV approach.
The ITV team started from the right place: thinking about the reader. It will be interesting to see if what they’ve come up with is what users want.