Fauquier Times

Year:

2018-2019

The Fauquier Times is a newspaper that was first published in 1817. Today the publication remains an important news source in Fauquier County through its print edition, social media presence, and website. In 2016 the newspaper was purchased by new owners looking to promote the accessibility to local community journalism in Fauquier and Prince William County.

Pagination design implementation by Taylor Dabney and Chris Six

Website Redesign:

Goals:

Create an up-to-date website for local newspapers Fauquier Times and Prince William Times that is user friendly on desktop & mobile devices. The site needs to have a balance between advertisements and content. The Website should reflect the print newspaper and have an emphasis on its digital edition/newsletters.

Problems areas:

• Website struggles to balance advertising space with content to equally serve advertisers and readers.

• Website is confusing for subscribers who want to subscribe/ cancel or read digital edition.

• Navigation is not as clear. Internal and external users  had a difficulty locating information.

• Sections were not clearly defined making it difficult to identify different news categories.

Approach:

We conducted stakeholder interviews to identify the top problem areas that users currently experience.

Key findings:

Summary: Analysis and user research conducted confirmed original project goals and problems originally outlined. It was revealed in interviews how confusing it was to navigate the website. The navigation bars were not successfully serving their purpose. We need to lead the users by separating the service navigation of the website from the news categories. We need to layout call to actions in places that are obvious  for visitors. Examples: users we tested struggled to find forms and how to submit events even though it was right on the page, it wasn’t place in a logical spot. We also found that visitors need explanations about the actions that are taking place. Examples: 1. Advertisers need more details about the different types of advertising, media kit, who to contact, and what steps they can take, 2. Subscribers: Subscribers need details on how to subscribe, how they get their newspaper, the differences, and need to be able to accurately pay.

Must haves: Clear navigation, calls to action, payment, improved advertising using DFP Google Ad manager, information for readers/advertisers using services,

Benefits to changes:

The updated layout and addition of DFP Google Ad manager provided more accurate reporting for advertisers. Better informed advertisers and better informed readers causing less confusion and phone calls.

Process:

After research, conducting interviews and analyzing the needs of users versus the needs of the newspaper I took to several blank pieces of paper and began to roughly sketch out how I felt the website could be more efficiently organized. It was really important for the redesign to be updated and on brand like the print publication. I then took my sketches and built a semi-functional prototype of the website using Adobe XD. I presented the prototype to the art department and the publisher where it was further refined and then approved.

We then handed off the design to TownNews. They came back with the first proof after a few weeks. I was extremely excited to see how close the build was to the prototype. During the few rounds of proof , I would screenshot the in-progress build of the website and provide draw over-notes for the developers to work from. Once we were happy with the websites appearance, we internally tested it and then launched the website. We noticed almost an immediate change as there were less phone calls, and users were staying on the website longer. The same design was applied to the sister publication Prince William Times a couple of months later.

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