Product / Engineering / Design

How we helped the world’s best-selling English language tabloid engage with a larger readership through Android

Product / Engineering / Design

How we helped the world’s best-selling English language tabloid engage with a larger readership through Android

The Sun is the world’s best-selling English language tabloid newspaper with an average daily readership of approximately 5.5 million. Famous for its splash headlines and unique daily content such as Dear Deidre and Page 3, Novoda were the ideal partner to port their punchy headline style to Android.
The Client Situation

Millions of daily routines include reading the news. Daily work commuting or after work relaxing in front of the television with a paper, a mobile or tablet is a daily ritual. The Sun is an iconic brand central to this ritual, being one of the most widely read English newspapers in the world, and as such is at the tip of the trend in an ever increasing shift to digital only subscribers. They had successfully provided their iOS audience with a modern mobile app, but the same love had not been spent on their Android app. They approached Novoda to match the success of their iOS app while using Novoda’s extensive knowledge of the platform to fully utilise Android’s capabilities.

Punchy Mobile Headlines

It is important when porting brands across mediums to not port only their implementation as realised on an individual platform. When we started working with The Sun, their existing Android app had taken the approach of mirroring the front cover of a printed newspaper. This was an ineffective mobile experience which, while reflecting the existing brand, did not reflect the expectations of being able to quickly swipe between content and categories. A revisited approach would allow for daily commuters and sofa bodies alike to quickly skim through many updates organised by their ‘freshness’, ‘news-worthiness’ and category.

Apart from the existing design, a critical business constraint was that in order to marry with the existing digital strategy it was imperative that we create an engaging initial login experience. No content was to be made available on mobile before a user subscribes. Mobile users in the existing app were greeted with a bold login screen before ever having had a chance to browse the content. This was of course going to pose as a challenge, but if we were going to make a login screen it was going to be the best login screen we could imagine.

What we did

Our biggest challenge with this application was that business constraints mandated that those who download the app from Play Store would initially have to tackle the sign in before they could see any live content. So we had to convey the quality of content, design, and application polish before users had signed in or paid for full access. We had to make it super easy for subscribers and prospective customers to turn into paying users. We started by looking at the very best examples in the Android world of onboarding (such as Yahoo News Digest, Duolingo and Airbnb). The end result is a beautiful sign-up process which surfaces simulated content at each stage and shows the capability of the application to potential subscribers. With beautiful yet subtle animations, news, regulars, and a level of attention to detail that even includes a full Premier League schedule for the upcoming weekend including historical scores between the relevant teams, the user is left in no doubt that subscribing to The Sun will reward them with a great news app experience.

Read all about it

Each sprint had opportunities for the many stakeholders to feed back their opinions. Those invested in the technical or product decisions could attend the first and second stages of our retrospective meetings - the sprint review and the next week’s sprint plan - and those interested in an informal update and in monitoring progress generally could drop in for the third stage - a public slideshow and live demonstration providing an overview of the sprint’s output. This allowed for organic levels of interaction with the development process. We found the public presentation to be especially effective, allowing the members of The Sun team to dictate their interest throughout the project. Sprint meetings were accessible to everyone regardless of their technical ability.

The 'hot off the press' value we provide

The application was released to great success on the Play Store, with ratings of the application climbing from 2.2 immediately before the update to 3.4 a month later, and continuing to rise. Users have been very happy with the new app, calling it “a brilliant update” and “the best newspaper app on [their] phone”. The on boarding process and trial offers also proved to be a big draw.

All in all, the updated app has proved to delight users, improve their experience, and bring them back to The Sun’s content on a daily basis. And more updates are on the way!