Understanding user experience new focus

Paying attention to the “why” is more important than ever to build an effective audience or new product strategy, said Stanford’s d. school experts at the pre-conference session Friday, kicking off the 2015 Editors3D ASNE/APME convention.

Nearly 50 editors heard about the user experience and how understanding that experience sheds light on creativity, which could lead to something new and better in newsrooms.

The theme of this year’s conference, 3-D: Digital, Diversity, Disruption, started with a discussion about the user experience.

“If you want to do something different, you need to risk something,” said Justin Ferrell, Fellowships Director at Stanford’s Institute of Design or d.school.

The d. school is a center in the School of Engineering at Stanford and brings together graduate students from all disciplines across campus. Its mission is to give “for restless experts who want to transform their industries.”

The 10-year-old center teaches 40 classes and 1,400 students every year.

Tran Ha, along with Ferrell, lead a new media and experiments team at the d.school.

Students look for ways to expand storytelling tools and techniques.

“Empathy research,” said Ha “is about is going out and immersing yourself with a user whether you bring something back or not.”

“Talking to people – the field work – will give you a signal into what is unique to your news organization,” Ha told editors. “Your organization then starts to design for behavior, context and shared experiences instead of demographics. When you start designing for those three things, you end up getting people who connect with that, even the ones you didn’t intend to connect with.”

Ha reminded editors that analytics and the metrics tell an incomplete story. “They tell you what story is doing well but they don’t tell you why. In order to build an effective strategy or replicate success, you have to have both.”

“Technology is just one piece of the strategy to connect with audiences in a sustainable path,” Ha said. “If we understand the audience and know where they are and what kind of value they get from our news organization, that will pay off.”

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