Business news brand Finans takes its digital-only strategy literally

Finans' freemium two-tab navigation on different platforms.
Finans' freemium two-tab navigation on different platforms.

Finans is a true “digital first” media. It holds no print edition.

The brand, founded by Jyllands-Posten, is based on a freemium business model, meaning it has both free and paid content for subscribers only. A yearly subscription of Finans cost around the same as a printed subscription of a Danish newspaper, so it is a bold initiative.

The freemium model has obvious challenges with regards to the user experience. How should one communicate to the user what requires subscription and what is free?

Finans took that question all the way and created two content universes — a free and a paid one. The free area is called “Live,” while the subscription area has been given the name of the product, “Finans.” To support this approach, a two-tab navigation model was created containing sections from each content flow.

Finans has developed various editorial formats to make the overall vision come through. It has a rich article view with the ability to relate various components to the article to enhance the depth and user experience.

Tagging is a vital part of the content flow. Every article is tagged with relevant tags and user can navigate by them as an alternative to traditional sections. On the newsletter level, Finans has developed a briefing format. Every briefing is handwritten by a journalist in a personal and informal tone instead of being an automatic feed of articles.

Branding and design: We aimed to create a design that would speak in a clear voice. We wanted to place Finans at the junction of aesthetic and functionalism.

Colour: The first design drafts had blue as the primary colour. But quite early in the design process, we realised that if we were to build a new independent brand and identity, we had to move away from colours previously used by Jyllands-Posten for business and financial content. We ended up going with a strong and expressive dark red colour.

Fonts: In a time where everyone seems to be introducing customised Web fonts, we wanted to work with a native typography set. Having a load budget in mind and an adaptive cross-device design, we paired a couple of very classic typefaces: Georgia as primary headline font and Arial in addition.

Logo: The Finans logo was designed by UK-based type designer Paul Barnes. It arises from Guardian Egyptian and is designed to work on all devices and in various sizes. It is both elegant and strong, and it is recognisable from a distance.

Grid: Building a site with two equal yet different front pages required special attention. Would it be possible to have one design identity, but still differentiate and distinguish different types of content? How could we affect the users perception of the content? These were some of our main considerations.

The result was black for Live and red for Finans and two different frontpage templates with the exact same backend options and configurations, but with two different settings and looks.

The Live/free frontpage follows a two column vertical grid and displays only headlines, tags, and big images. The Finans/subscription frontpage has a vertical three-column grid and each article is displayed with a slice of article body text and smaller images, mainly to the right.

Navigation: Creating the desktop navigation was an achievement of its own. We ran this as a separate project. The concept was clear, but we had to create and build the architecture.

Several sketches were drawn, and a few of the best made it into prototyping. These were tested on Finans core audience and modified. The nature of this iterative process was complex, time consuming and frustrating at times, but also extremely instructive. We ended up with the two-tab black/red navigation.

Article template: In creating the article template, the design team focused on the user experience and the integration of new functionalities such as "infinite scroll.” That is, when the user scrolls down to the bottom of an article, the next article in the flow is automatically loaded.

In addition to smooth functionality, the main priority was to build components for journalists to vary and enrich their articles. These components ultimately would add value for the user, as well as enhance and engage the user experience.

Inline images, videos, links, quotes, tables, fact boxes, toolboxes, and tables for company and financial data were designed.

Social media: A huge part of Finans concept is getting content to flow on social media. Each journalist has a Twitter account and a dedicated community manager was hired to communicate and run a dialogue with the users.

For desktop article level, we created a special feature for users to “mark-and-share” a slice of body text directly on social media. The user can mark a piece of text with the mouse and get a pop-up which displays the number of characters and the opportunity to share the slice on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Business data: Being a business brand, it was vital for Finans to have close integration to business data. On desktop and mobile platforms, users have access to these data in three ways:

  • Through a search page where the user can find core business data about a company.

  • Through a company tag page where articles about the company are shown together with stock and core data about the company.

  • Via the article where company names are clickable and show an overlay with the most important data.

These were some of the main considerations we had during the Finans project. For the real experience, visit

About Lisbeth From Birkholm and Kartin Hansen

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