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We Keep You POSTed!

This month's update our Google DNI project POST is all about user research.

We Keep You POSTed!

A few months ago we were excited to announce that we earned a second round funding for our project POSTa tool for journalists helping them to make a better usage of data analytics in their daily work. As we hope, POST will shape the future of data driven journalism by combining data analysis with a chatbot. Last year we were able to build a first prototype, and now the second round of funding allows us to actually build the product.

In monthly updates we will share our progress, as well as our biggest challenges and even failures. We talked to Allegra, scrum master on the project to review the results of last month's work.

Allegra, what was the starting point for your work on POST?

Our first idea for POST was the result of our collaboration with many different editorial teams from the leading German and European newspapers and magazines in the past years. Our participation in the digital transformation of the publishing industry gave us a lot of insights into challenges and workflows of the editorial teams. We’ve developed not only a deep understanding of digital journalism today but a vision of the future of journalism. Based on that, we’ve decided, that we want to take that knowledge and turn it into something that will shape this future. We wanted to build a tool that not only makes the lives of journalists easier, but also adds another layer of quality to their work.

During our first research phase for POST we interviewed all our contacts and when developing the prototype we always involved them for testing. Their contribution was of an enormous help to develop our idea further and align it with their actual needs. After building our prototype last year, we had to apply for a new round of funding with Google DNI and when we won the new one we were able to start developing the product in September 2017.

So what have been your biggest challenges last month?

Our main challenge was to get our tester group on board. We want to build a product that adds actual value to the daily work of journalists of any kind. But to do so, we need to know everything about them, their challenges and their daily workflows. And that means we have to change perspective to understand what features and functionalities will really pay off. As the relation to the users is a very crucial part of every project, we wanted to rebuild the connection we had with them and even deepen it to also to get their commitment to the project. In regards to our user tester group, we learned that it’s very important to stay in touch even in times when nothing new is happening. Indeed, it is much harder to rebuild the connection when you have not shared updates for several months. But if you have to, it’s worth it to think about how to get in touch again and invest some time and creativity in it.

We developed a clear strategy to activate their participation and also convey the bigger picture of our vision on how to transform digital publishing.

Which methods or tools did you use for your activation strategy?

With the team, we built a user research strategy map that helped us to organise our activities and processes for each of our milestones. For our first milestones we decided to creatively establish the contact with our users again and then planned a series of phone interviews to catch-up on the data analytics progresses inside the newsrooms and to validate some of the assumptions that were made last year in regards to the workflow inside those organizations. In addition, we decided to run usability tests with some new prototypes that we have been designing.

By the way there are still some spots left in our beta tester community ;) So, if you’re an editor who is publishing online and want to be part of building the future of digital journalism: drop us a line, and we will check if you fit our criteria to become a member of our tester group.

What where last month’s milestones and what comes next?

Bringing the relationship with our user testers back to life again and conducting the interviews was the biggest mission. Another major milestone last month was the improvement of the installation process of our tool. We designed and developed a new flow that will be tested in the next weeks.

Stay tuned for our next update, when we will share our key takeaways from our user research and a talk a little more about the current challenges of the journalists.

Read more about our project