After re-designing the mobile version of its website mid-September, i launched an app yesterday (21 October 2019) which brings the new look directly into users’ smartphones.
This move brought stronger focus on mobile-first formats and smartphone users habits. For example, in addition to subheadings and online images to help readers navigate the story on the palm-sized screen, the publisher uses grey fact boxes to highlight significant quotes, pull out key information or highlight case studies.
"Our approach is to give readers information as clearly and as quickly as possible," Daisy Wyatt, i, acting head of digital, told us in an email.
To respond to mobile audiences' needs, the app features a shorter version of the headline compared to the browser experience to make them more easily scannable.
Another change is the omission of bullet points at the top of the stories used in the majority of articles on inews.co.uk. Wyatt found this increased scroll time on mobile before readers even got to the start of a news story.
The app publishes editions at midnight, midday at 5 pm, while coverage of breaking news exists on a separate tab.
"We decided to launch with three editions to put curation at the heart of the app," said Wyatt.
"Everyone can hear the headlines on the radio, or scroll through their Twitter feed to find the latest news. We want to give something a bit extra, whether it's unpacking what having a border down the Irish sea really means, or explaining why a crucial rugby try could have been disallowed."
The new product aims to give readers the sense of having a curated news package of what they need to know right now with an emphasis on analysis and explainers. Instead of the conventional Home tab, mobile users access directly 'Editor's picks' selection as they open the app.
To work out optimal edition times, Wyatt’s team relied on inews.co.uk reader behaviour data. Editions are scheduled at lunch breaks, evening commutes and the ‘midnight’ edition is usually pushed through at 10.30pm, but gets updated at midnight with any Government reports embargoed until 12 am.
"There aren’t many people who read inews.co.uk this late at night so this wasn’t based on data, but we wanted to ensure all of the biggest stories were on people’s phones for early the next morning for those who start browsing in bed when they wake up.
"There is also a mini fourth edition at 7 am when any significant stories that break overnight - for example Thomas Cook going into administration - are added," explained Wyatt.
Mobile-first strategy also pushed the editorial team to rethink display advertising, especially given that readers are paying £5.99 a month to access it. There are currently two online adverts in the middle of stories, plus a bottom banner advert. In shorter stories there is only one advert in the middle, though.
To help its 10.2 million monthly website users and 225,000 print readers form habits on the app, i will be featuring digital ads on the website and adding subscribe buttons to its newsletter, as well as running ads in its print editions.
"The app is part of our wider digital strategy and investment to grow i’s loyal readership and focus more on this group of frequently returning readers. We’ve recently hired an engagement editor as well as an app editor to work further on this," revealed Wyatt.
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