Annoyed by slow update cycles in app stores and the limitations that RSS can bring, Medien Holding:Nord GmbH (mh:n) decided to update its outdated news apps. This decision, made in 2015, resulted in the development of hybrid apps for both iOS and Android.
We partnered with PREPUBLIC, a mobile specialist from Berlin, to create a few essential native elements (splash screen, navigation, and header) across all our apps, with content that loads from our Web sites. This gives us greater influence over the way the content is presented. Push notifications allow us to keep our readers in the know during a breaking news situation, and the most important headlines can be read by smartwatches.
We added an extension to our Web CMS, which allows editors to update content on a channel basis and to adapt content to the user’s needs on all devices. This multi-channel approach opened up a completely new way for us to publish articles for any mobile scenario.
Large news sites still face the challenge of article load time. At the time we were addressing this issue, Google released the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. The payoff from integrating AMP was more than we expected, and we were very impressed by the overall increase in speed and performance of our article loading online.
“Our belief is that anything less than instant kills engagement,” says Nicolas L. Fromm, CEO of mh:n digital. “Why not integrate AMP article pages in our native apps? Engagement and retention are our main focus.”
It was an obvious idea to bring the best of both worlds together to solve our performance issue. An adjustable redirect was set up that leads the request to the AMP version in our news app. We gave it a try with the smallest of the three apps, using Google Analytics to take a deep look into the figures. With some extra hours spent, almost all integration of AMP HTML was accomplished.
We didn’t have to wait long to see the results. Loading times for articles were nearly four times faster, screens per session grew by about 25%, and the mobile user experience seems to have greatly improved. We received positive user feedback without exception, so we rolled it out for the other apps, as well.
We will continue to fine tune and stay on the lookout for any new technology that helps us create an even better native feeling inside our apps.
“We’re in the business of creating engagement, building loyalty, and monetising quality journalism,” Fromm says. “Our main goal in building digital products is to create a frictionless and uninterrupted reading experience in our apps and news sites.”
As an early mover in our market the verdict is in: mh:n is truly “AMPed” and curious to see what’s coming next.