How we help NU.nl make news more personal

How we help NU.nl make news more personal

News outlets publish hundreds of articles per day, so how do you find the news you want to read?

Today, we’re proud to show you one of our latest design projects. NU.nl, the biggest online news platform in the Netherlands and one of our longtime clients, released a big update that lets you personalize your news app. It’s called “Mijn NU”, and it’s available on iOS and Android.

 Mijn NU offers a personal view of the news, based on the topics you follow

Mijn NU offers a personal view of the news, based on the topics you follow

Introducing a more personal news feed

Mijn NU sits in the bottom bar of NU.nl’s mobile app. Here’s what it lets you do:

  • Follow any topic
    Pick which news topics you’re most curious about. That could be news about Amsterdam, all articles related to Google, or every update about Rafael Nadal. Once you’ve selected the topics you want to follow, all related articles will appear in a new section of the app, called “My News”.
  • Follow stories as they unfold
    After reading an article, you can choose to receive further updates about what happens next. These articles are also added to My News.
  • Fine-tune your push notifications
    Decide for which of your favorite topics you’d like to receive push notifications.

If you’re an existing user of the NU.nl app, Mijn NU will now also suggest topics to follow based on the articles you’ve read before. For new users, Mijn NU is introduced during the onboarding. And to keep the feature accessible, you don’t need an account to create a personal news feed.

 NU.nl offers suggestions for topics to follow

NU.nl offers suggestions for topics to follow

In the months ahead, NU.nl is planning to make news even more personal. Here’s what Jurre de Ruiter, NU.nl’s Head of Product, thinks about further personalization:

“We want to become more personal and relevant for our users. By adding Mijn NU to the bottom menu bar, we’re giving personalization a prominent spot in our apps. Earlier, we already introduced regional push notifications.”

“In the end, we truly believe in personalization that doesn’t require action from the user’s part. Of course, we’re paying attention to the well-known filter bubble. We want NU.nl to be the place for everything you should know and everything you want to know. What you should know is what our editors believe is important, regardless of your interests — things like the situation in Israel or the debate about natural gas in Groningen. What you want to know ties in to your interests, whether that’s Ajax, Kim Kardashian, crypto currencies, or science news.”

“We’re trying to manage that balance, and aFrogleap is doing a great job at assisting us. The solution is good UX in which you’re transparent about what you’re doing and why you’re showing particular things to a user. With their good eye, aFrogleap’s designers make this challenging process a lot easier for us.”

Agile design with tests and iterations

Two of our user experience designers worked with NU.nl’s product team on this new version of Mijn NU. Here’s Neo, one of our designers, explaining how the team went about creating it:

“Our goal was to make NU.nl’s app more personal. We started the process by spending a day in a cafe, where we made mind maps of our vision for Mijn NU. We have now realized a few of those concepts, but this is only the start. First of all, we figured out we needed to give Mijn NU a more prominent spot in the app. That’s why it’s no longer hidden away in some menu — you’ll now find it right in the bottom bar. We also wanted to add new features to make it more useful.”

 Follow stories as they unfold

Follow stories as they unfold

Coming up with new concepts was only the first step. Testing those ideas with users was just as important. Michiel, our other designer working with NU.nl, explains how we tested several versions: 

“Based on our sketches, we started crafting high-fidelity designs that we turned into a prototype. We then invited eight people for a user test with the prototype. During the test, we observed how people used the interface and we asked them about their experience. After each test, we used the user feedback to improve our design. It was a very Agile way of designing.”

Further improvements are coming up

User testing is a crucial element of our design process. It teaches you about assumptions you didn’t know you had. By coupling user testing with quick iterations, you’re able to improve your product in very little time. And that process of continuous improvement doesn’t stop once a feature is released, as our designer Neo explains here: 

“Every week, we receive user feedback about the NU.nl app. That’s our input for further improvements. As the year progresses, you’ll see us adding more features and improvements to Mijn NU.”

Meanwhile, we’re proud to be working with NU.nl. Very few products are used so often, and by so many people; every month, 7 million visitors read a total of 800 million articles on NU.nl. Our UX designers will keep pushing to deliver the best possible experience to those millions. We’ll keep concepting, we’ll keep testing, and we’ll keep iterating. Stay tuned!