Story builder is a two-part Content Management System (CMS) comprised of a dashboard and a content editor allowing editors, columnists and journalists to publish content on the web (www.lapresse.ca), the mobile application (App Store and Google Play) and the tablet application (Apple store and Google Store).
- User and market research
- User flows
- UI mockups
- Styleguide and Specifications for Developers
- Usability Testing reports
Adding features in the new Content Management System (CMS) to support the launch of the new mobile application and shut down several legacy systems and services.
Since I joined the back-end team after the official launch of the new mobile application, supported by this new CMS, my discovery phase consisted of getting to know the project, its challenges and know the end users.
Problems and goals
Matching the capacities offered by the the legacy systems to be able to shut them down
Improve the productivity of editors
Lay out a solid foundation to extend the use of this new Content Management System (CMS) to other department and teams to create an integrated workflow.
Time spent to publish a breaking news
Number of breaking news published by day
Satisfaction score using the system
Very strict development cost control due to La Presse's non-profit status
End users have very limited availability to participate in activities to due low staff numbers and operations constraints
Average user experience design maturity within organization and team
Informal, lean and fast-paced teamwork, with daily change requests.
Prior to the launch of the new CMS, an extensive research phase has been performed by a previous designer. I joined the back-end team afterwards, and continued the research work that had been established. We constantly performed field research with end users to highlight opportunities, build trust and validate our findings.
Trust was an important pillar of change management and change adoption considering that our newsroom is heavily content oriented (which is normal) and see technology as a hurdle between them and readers.
Research activities :
- Qualitative interviews (non-guided)
- User testing
Results and insights: We found that despite the new CMS being easy to use and fast, a several key features and quality of life improvements were missing, e.g.: the ability to drag and drop of content modules, also a few missing content modules such as social, maps, and charts, etc.
We kept our ideation within an important triangle, technical feasibility (cost, complexity, architecture), quality of the user experience (task performance, ease of use, answering user needs) and business viability (cost of development, product vision).
Ideation activities :
- Co-creation workshop
Takeaways: Ideation isn't a one size fits all situation, every feature requires a different approach ranging from an informal discussion to figure things out and take decisions, without wireframes/mockups using existing components, to a more formal approach with a co-creation workshop with developers and/or users, to determine the most appropriate solution for a particular problem to solve.
We kept a small circle of super users from different team in the newsroom with whom we could easily validate early designs and make sure we were on the right track.
We usually share our designs either in person or on Slack, sometimes presenting them with flows and clickable prototypes to have a better idea of the end to end experience.
Also, we are used to let users try new features and changes on development environments before merging on production servers, to gather more feedback at different stage of the development process.
Testing activities :
- One on One usability testing (task performance)
- Discussions with stakeholders, super-users and regular users
- User testing on a minimum viable feature (working end to end) on a staging environnement
Takeaways: Bringing users along with you in your design process helps having the right discussions early regarding the right solution and avoid traps of choosing for them and getting pushback later on because they weren't involved in the process.
As of June 2021, the transition work is about to get completed with the decommission of the last legacy system. It has been over 2 years since we started to use one Content Management System to publish on all of our platforms. User adoption has been excellent so far, and despite having a lot more to do and to add to our new workflows, the type and amount of feedback we get rom users let us believe that it meets their expectations and needs.
What we learned
Speed over everything, the ability to go from research to ideation to user testing in a matter of days has been beneficial to everyone. The faster we are at validating solutions with users, the less time we waste developing the wrong features, and the faster we ship.
Change management can't be addressed with a new product/solution only. You can ship the best product in the world, if people have no interest, constraints or benefits to change their habits, they simply won't. That is why bringing people with you in your project is of the utmost importance.
Nobody is "right" on its own. As much as user input is essential, developers also have an essential role to play, outside of coding lines, is to make sure features and changes fit within the architecture, helps push it further, and works with our long-term goals. Developing lean and efficient solutions is the responsibility of every protagonist, designers, QA, developers, users, product owners, and any other stakeholder.