Re-thinking Feed Consumption Platform Designs

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Re-thinking Feed Consumption Platform Designs

At Innoplexus, we have been involved in crafting a novel Life Sciences Research Platform, iPlexus. In terms of product design and experience, we have been trying to create a better navigation and information consumption architecture.

Most of the ideas talked about here map closely to search or discovery based platforms in general, which provide the user with a feed of information— for example, news websites , search platforms etc., given most of the data resides within the system and where user does not have to branch out of the platform.

Some examples could be: theguardian.com, sciencenews, huffingtonpost.in, clinicaltrials.gov, pubmed.com and many others. In short, platforms where there is a gist and a detailed article in place.

Let’s talk a bit about the user behavior in these type of platforms —

  1. Navigate through a series of articles (gist)
  2. Click on one that is of interest — to read it in detail.
  3. After having read — return back using the back/home button.
  4. Repeat the process 1–2–3 for other articles.

Pretty straight-forward right! So, what are the issues with such a system?

  1. If in the last hour, I clicked on 5 articles of interest to read them in detail — how can I refer back to them? Say, I want to go back to the one talking about ‘Trump being an angel’ — unbelievable I know — but if that was the case, should I repeatedly click back button to get to that? Naah! Should I waste time in finding that article again?
  2. Although many such systems of bookmarking and favouriting articles, exist in modern digital products, but they are less used simply because something being important could be an after-thought! Another point is them being linked to sign-ups/profile.
  3. In this list of 10 articles, could I possibly pick the ones that look interesting for a deep-dive — then study them in detail together (one by one)? I am much better doing the selection initially rather than going back and forth b/w gist and detail views sequentially. Allow me to form a bucket of interested articles.

Even if we think about it logically — since the user behavior pattern is going back and forth between feed and detailed views, there has to be a tighter integration between both.

Considering the above and after speaking to multiple users — we have designed a navigation system that avoids this conventional method — and interprets that in a way that attempts to create a tighter loop between the two modes.

  1. As seen above, in this design — the feed and detailed modes are stacked on each other, creating layers. The feed layer resides on top hiding the detail layer by default. On a user click of a feed item, the feed layer slides down to reveal the detailed content.
  2. The Detailed view, also has a toggle to switch back to the feed view.
  3. The Detailed view, also maintains a history of feeds viewed so that while in the detail mode, the user can switch through various articles he/she would have shown interest in.
  4. At any given time, the detailed view persists the last seen article.

This helps in replicating a closer mental model and also facilitates in revisiting one’s usage patterns, and potentially picking a leaf out of that.

Let’s look at another novel addition, that tries to address the earlier highlighted issue of the user being able to collect the articles of interest in some way and then reading them in detail together.

  1. Introducing, “Long Press” to aid user click and collect articles of interest — signifying that these are potential candidates that he/she might want to deep dive in. Notice the significant difference with bookmark/favourite/like sort of features, which are more deterministic in nature.
  2. Once done with, the user then switches to “Detail Mode” — to find the selected articles stacked together, ready for detailed reading.
  3. This type of background loading helps the user to keep his focus and avoid multiple shifts.

In terms of product design, our effort is to solve problems at hand — If that calls for revisiting traditional patterns, then I strongly believe that should be done. Hope the article and this experience helps to spark more ideas around designing better ways to help users consume information more effectively and effortlessly.

by Amit Jain

Product Designer, Musician, Irritating Husband & a Proud Father. Using design to solve interesting problems in Life Sciences.

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