What The Guardian has learned trying to build a more intelligent story format — one that knows what you know

Over the past several months, the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab has introduced a new format that we have been working on: the Smarticle. We’ve now run three Smarticle experiments, and learned a lot about how readers like the format and what topics work well in it. Most significantly, we learned that there’s an appetite for this story format: Through a combination of written feedback from users and analytics, we learned that people enjoyed consuming news in this way, and they were comfortable only receiving elements of the story that were new to them. Continue reading “What The Guardian has learned trying to build a more intelligent story format — one that knows what you know”

Read to me: ReadSpeaker for everyone!

By Lettie Y. Conrad

From the time I was a child, I’ve enjoyed listening to people read aloud — from parents and teachers reading storybooks to spoken-word nights at college to audiobooks on long journeys. There’s something quite soothing and somewhat magical about the written word coming to life with voice. While I listen, my eyes are free to look up and gaze out a window, my hands are available to tinker with a puzzle or pet a cat. Continue reading “Read to me: ReadSpeaker for everyone!”

“Interactivity in scientific figures is a key tool for data exploration and the scientific process”

Last summer we launched our interactive figures initiative with plotly. Since then, we have published 22 interactives figures in seven articles across two platforms (F1000Research and MNI Open Research). Our collaboration with ploty (and Code Ocean) was also covered in a recent Nature Toolbox article. Continue reading ““Interactivity in scientific figures is a key tool for data exploration and the scientific process””

How The Financial Times Uses Reader Feedback To Launch And Test New Features

Last year, the Financial Times reached a milestone — 900,000 paying subscriptions. The company has used a paywall on its website FT.com since 2002, long before it became a must-have for news outlets outside financial media.

As a media business reliant on reader revenue, it’s been important that we track usage behavior. Those metrics help our product and news teams to understand what readers are doing and the different outcomes of those journeys. Continue reading “How The Financial Times Uses Reader Feedback To Launch And Test New Features”

Optimizely’s decision to ditch its free plan suggests A/B website testing is dead

On December 20, 2017 Optimizely, the leading A/B testing platform, informed its users that it is planning to sunset its free Starter plan on February 28, 2018.

We estimate that this change will impact around 70,000 websites* which will soon be left without a tool that allows customers to test and alter site experience.

Here’s the official message as sent out by Optimizely via email:

Continue reading “Optimizely’s decision to ditch its free plan suggests A/B website testing is dead”

Designing a Chatbot

I have been extremely lucky to get a chance on designing a chatbot for one of our clients and the learning in the process has been massive. Most of the notions that I thought were true were discarded by research and a whole new world of possibilities just opened wide. Below, I have shared some of my crucial understandings along the path of designing a bot, hope you like it. Continue reading “Designing a Chatbot”

Blackboard and ReadSpeaker Partner to Enhance Accessibility of Digital Course Content

ReadSpeaker’s leading text-to-speech technology integrated into Blackboard Ally, helping instructors worldwide create more accessible content for learners

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2018Blackboard and ReadSpeaker are furthering their partnership to help instructors worldwide improve the accessibility of course content for their students. Currently, ReadSpeaker is Blackboard’s exclusive text-to-speech provider that is fully integrated within Blackboard’s learning management systems, supporting Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Now, as part of this extended collaboration, ReadSpeaker’s text-to-speech technology will also be integrated within Blackboard Ally as an offline audio alternative for course content. This allows students to automatically access an MP3 version of content added by the instructor into the LMS. Continue reading “Blackboard and ReadSpeaker Partner to Enhance Accessibility of Digital Course Content”

The Future of User Interface — Voice Meets the Screen

WillowTree CEO Tobias Dengel speaking at the Landmark CIO Summit in NYC, May 4, 2017. In “The Future of User Interface,” he addresses how to engage customers through a variety of targeted technologies like conversational interfaces. Instead of typing, tapping or using a mouse, we will primarily use our voices, but the response from our devices will vary among voice, text and graphics, depending on our context. “Multi-Modal UX” will be the biggest change in human interface design since the iPhone revolutionized mobile 10 years ago, and will change everything from how consumers buy online or consume content, to how employees in the field rapidly access information.

Politics publisher The Canary is converting text articles to audio to find new audiences

To broaden its audience, British left-leaning news site The Canary has been converting all its text articles to audio since last September. In time, it plans to make its audio articles available on voice assistant devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, where publishers are increasingly making more content available. Continue reading “Politics publisher The Canary is converting text articles to audio to find new audiences”

FT Conversation: the FT at BBC newsHack

Back in October, the BBC organised a hackathon as part of their newsHack series. This time, they focused on Conversational User Interfaces (CUI) and, for the occasion, invited other news organisations to take part. The FT joined in with a pluri-disciplinary team (editorial, UX design, software engineering).

At the end of the 2-day event, we had a prototype ready for FT Conversation, an application running on Google Home, with our users’ comments at its heart. Continue reading “FT Conversation: the FT at BBC newsHack”

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