Research helps The Scotsman pivot from news digest to football product
Ideas Blog | 14 April 2022
Getting products in front of users as quickly as possible is the mantra Jeff Moriarty, chief product officer at Nexstar Digital, has lived by for years. He walked attendees of INMA’s master class on Methodologies to Launch and Innovate Products through that process, using examples drawn from throughout his career.
One example came when he helped develop a mobile-first news product at The Scotsman. The news media company received funding from the Google News Initiative to test its hypothesis that users wanted a curated experience bundled like a newspaper with daily updates.
“We started to work on a new process of innovation where we’d create ideas, very quickly go to prototyping and MVP (minimum viable product), then very quickly go to users, see what they say, and then validate or kill,” Moriarty said.
The Scotsman used this project to perfect a process that they called a “cycle of continuous improvement.” It was all about speed and the ability to test quickly and learn, Moriarty said: “What I learned … was you don’t need fancy focus groups. I still think there’s a lot of value in early, simple talking to users.”
As part of the process, the team created a way to summarise a combination of reporting from The Scotsman and the best content from social media.
“Some of the features we were thinking about were curated,” Moriarty said. “Human editors were choosing that content. It was image-rich. It was very fresh and concise.”
The team believed people had a limited amount of time so they wanted to put together something for them that was clean and easy to use: “We started taking some of these concepts literally to paper into coffee shops, pubs, and talked to people, and started to tackle some of these problems, [such as] local news sites can look like crap and how do we fix that.”
The team at The Scotsman started asking people how they would interact with the news and collected feedback: “It wasn’t ‘can it be built?’ but ‘should it be built?' and it was very helpful to us to have that,” Moriarty said.
In this case, The Scotsman decided not to launch the product, but not all its work went to waste: The team pivoted the focus of the product from news to football.
“We just couldn’t differentiate the daily news digest in a way that would create habit and that people would use regularly,” Moriarty said. “But in football, where people are obsessed, the concepts we had started to work. So it was dropping in and getting a swipeable, very quick and easy to use summary of what’s going on with your favourite team. We built that and it worked well.”
This case study originally appeared in the INMA report 7 Steps to a Successful Media Product Process.