Refinery29 This A.M.
How we translated the success of an editorial concept into Refinery29’s first mobile app.
User’s goal: to quickly go over the 8 most important things to be in the know.
Technology goal: to a single mobile app that performed in both iOS and Android.
Business goal: to provide relevant content to the readers in order to have another platfrom to monetize.
Visual design: Kate Titus
Through basic research, that included site analytics and in person surveys, we identified that 8 Things You Need to Know This AM (abbreviated as This AM), a daily maintained content franchise that publishes 8 of the most interesting things that we think you should know before you start your day, had the potential of expanding into a native app. It hit a lot of the points that we identified were important to our users in our initial testing:
1. It had a level of utility
2. It was updated daily
3. It was educational
4. It was one of the most popular content
After doing a brief competitive analysis and talking to the actual writer of the articles, we identified that the experience had to capture the briefeness of the content, the immediacy and the lightness of the angle which it was written.
The first exlorations tried to pack all the content into one screen but as we iterated we identified that since the content was so short lived and it was small and light we could make it more fun and immersive by giving each piece its own screen. This also aligned with Snapchat’s navigational patterns which was one of the most used apps by our users.
Once we identified the navigational patterns, we began the exploration around the visual design of the experience. At first we tried to follow the aesthetic the content already had on the website, this meant a constant update to the UI as the program branding was redesigned every month.
The great thing about adding the visual design to our prototypes was that we could actually put it in our editors hands. They brought their vision to the app and proposed great ideas like closing the app with an inspring quote or gif that celebrated the fact the reader had gone through all the 8 things they needed to know.
Click here to interact with the prototype ->
Led by Kate Titus, the creative director in charge of designing the look and feel of the content, the team aligned in a minimalist concept based on the deconstruction of a clock transforming into a sun and moon.
Since I had initiated this project alongside with the Director of Technology, he was able to build an html protoype which could be quckly launched and changed. This allowed for both being able to test but also to show to potential advertisers.
The app launched 2 months after I had left the company. It debuted as one of the Best New Apps on the iOS store and has recieved rave reviews from the readers. It also allowed Refinery29 to secure belVita to sponsor the app for a full year which was its business goal.