The editors and journalists at [can't disclose the client name] needed an easy way to populate their homepage and edit the content on the go in today’s fast moving news landscape.
In an energising, day-long workshop involving editors, product managers, designers and software engineers, we talked about what type of users would use the platform and what type of tasks would they want to accomplish.
To gather everyone’s ideas I chose the Vision Board format, which compares users, needs/goals, features and the value they bring.
Some of the editors were really keen on having a ‘drag & drop’ functionality because it’s simple and intuitive.
In this case ‘drag & drop’ is considered a feature; a way to achieve the goal of ‘moving things around easily’ but what if there were plenty of other solutions to get the same outcome? Sometimes, what seems like a good solution might not be the best one. In this scenario, a designer should always take a step back and focus on the real user goals at any given point in the process.
In this instance, drag & drop seemed unnecessary – even frustrating - as source and destination may not both be in view or in reach. Therefore, we went for simple clicks to select articles and available slots.
Tell me what you want and I'll tell you what you need.
After analysing all the materials from the workshop I started sketching some possible interfaces to create an order in my head. I then compared my understanding of this with the rest of the team.
We successively dove into more detail, starting from the article preview itself. The editors needed some tools to accomplish certain tasks, such as editing articles headlines and images – resizing them and moving articles to different slots. We needed to ascertain the best way to access those tools and the best way to display them.
After considering several different options, we opted for a small toolbar that would appear when clicking on each article block. My aim was to keep the editing interface as invisible as possible, as WYSIWYG really should be.
Testing the toolbar on the tiniest of the article blocks seems to work fine:
As well as editing each article block, it was necessary to edit the page at higher level - changing article positions and moving entire sections of the page up and down.
I evaluated and prototyped different options using very simple wireframes with colorful blocks.
Moving A to B is a deceptively complex flow, as the interface needs to answer the following questions:
To answer those questions these notifications and visual cues play a significant role in the user experience.
Once both I and the team were happy with the overall layout, I translated my sketches into higher quality mock-ups.
To source content for the homepage and potentially the rest of the website, we created a panel where it’s possible to search and filter the entire library of articles and images by keyword, date range and section.
From the panel you can see the latest articles, as well as the ones that are still in progress. Color coding of the bars on the left allows the user to quickly see which section each article belongs to.
The clipboard acts as a temporary storage location for articles.
Editors can now play around with the homepage layout and, when they need to retrieve some of the articles they removed, they can just reimport them from the clipboard. Super useful, indeed!
These are just a handful of the features we designed; there is much more that the editorial interface is capable of, and both the engineering and product teams at ****** are working hard to build upon it.
I’m so glad I had the chance to kick-start with them this project – to create a useful system that will speed up someone’s daily tasks, as it’s something I value in my own way of working.