I read the news daily. Starting first in the morning with a real newspaper – Helsingin Sanomat. What is more refreshing than reading the newspaper along with a nice cup of hot coffee and a light breakfast (usually 2 slices of toast).
During the day I follow news quite frequently and I read them using my PC/mobile/tablet at home or on the move. I could read them using a browser on all devices, but the user experience is not optimal on small devices, so that’s why there are apps. I have accustomed to reading them using apps, it easy and quick to open and it gives me a summary of the latest news. But why does the user experience and design be so different in apps from the same news publisher? Where is the consistency of UX/UI and brand? iOS and Android apps are usually covered quite good with the news publishers, so I will not concentrate on those operating systems. I am a Windows man.
Somehow and surprisingly all the biggest news publishers here in Finland have quite good Windows 8.1 Phone apps, but not any of them have yet an Windows 10 Universal App, which would have been the wise thing to do. The news apps designed for Windows 8.1 are all outdated and do not give a good impression of their brand. This is not the case with their iOS and Android apps.
Now as Windows 10 is gaining market share – already the 3rd most popular OS – and will grow, it would be the time and place to update the apps to Windows 10 Universal app format. With one codebase they would have an app for all Windows devices – even in Xbox. Isn’t this already a big thing?
From the users point of view current situation is quite frustrating and the brand awareness is not consistent. Let’s take a closer look by looking at their Windows Phone apps first as they are better than the Windows App versions.
Yle (The Finnish national broadcasting company)
The Yle Windows 8.1 Phone app is very nice and rich in features, as you can stress the news that interest you which then will give you more news on the areas of your interest. The design is a good and is easy to use. Big headlines and readable text. The brand comes out clean and with dignity.
Picture: Yle Windows 8.1 Phone app
Their current Windows 8.1 app is an outdated version and does not give the same user experience. The news are updated and you can use it, but the feature to stress news interests is not there. The brand is not consistent with the mobile version.
Picture: Yle Windows 8.1 app
To make an Yle Windows 10 Universal App I would use the current mobile app as a base for the new version. Slightly updateing the design and bringing the same features to all devices. With this Yle would have a prefect Windows 10 app for all users an keeping the brand consistent.
Helsingin Sanomat (HS)
The Windows 8.1 Phone app is a nice and typical news app you see on mobile phones. User can choose from various categories more news items to his/her interests. Subscribed users can read all the news items in full. The brand comes out as it should.
Picture: HS Windows 8.1 Phone app
The Windows 8.1 app is a functional and updated app for subscribers to read the daily newspaper online and to read the latest online news. The design is a bit outdated and brand is not consistent with the mobile version, but you get everything you have paid for.
Picture: HS Windows 8.1 app
When making the HS Windows 10 Universal App it could be re-designed more to the like of the HS iOS app.
MTV Media (MTV)
My personal favorite is the MTV Windows 8.1 Phone app. I think it is the best and most beautiful Finnish news app I have on my phone. It is clean, easy and functional. I love the way they use big pictures.
Picture: MTV Windows 8.1 Phone app
But the MTV Windows 8.1 app is a disgrace. It has not been updated in a long, long, long time, otherwise it would work. Last time I used it, it had on the main page old outdated news. But now I cannot even get it to load any news into the app in Windows 10. Is it only working with Windows 8.1? Where is the brand management?
Picture: MTV Windows 8.1 app
They should quickly update to Windows 10 Universal app format to give the user a consistent user experience in all Windows devices. Just use the current mobile app as a base. Work on it now!
The IS Windows 8.1 Phone app is a functional and ok news app. Sometimes the big commercials prevent me to scroll down and I have to find a clear space outside the commercial to start the scrolling to work. Design is a bit outdated but the brand comes out as it should.
Picture: IS Windows 8.1 Phone app
The Windows 8.1 app is the same as the Yle app. Outdated from design and functionality point of view but usable on Windows 10. Brand consistency is quite successful in both apps, so no mention there.
Picture: IS Windows 8.1 app
I would use the same arguments here than I used with Yle. Updating to Windows 10 Universal app format use the mobile app as a base and it would give the users the same usability and functionalities in all devices.
Iltalehti Windows 8.1 Phone app has a nice news carousel on the front, where you can swipe from 20 – 30 news headlines easily and to choose what to read. The design is a bit old fashioned to my taste, but it works. The brand comes out as it should.
Picture: IL Windows 8.1 Phone app
Iltalehti does not have an app to read the news summaries for Windows 8.1 but they have an app where you can buy todays paper for online reading. So they are missing an app the competition have. I would like to have it as well.
With Windows 10 Universal App they could provide the same news to all devices as they now provide only for the phone. Updating the design would be a wise decision.
Adds or no adds?
Some of the apps have adds in it, like in the IS phone app where they are too big and hinders the user experience. I do not mind that they have adds, but they should be designed and implemented so that it gives the user the best reading sensation. If the app pushes too much adds and makes the news reading a pain in the butt, I would uninstall it.
I understand that news publishers have not paid much attention because of the small Windows Phone market (hopefully it will change) when updating their apps, but still all their Windows phone apps are quite good and are currently giving the best news summaries to the Windows phone users.
Why forgetting the Windows 8.1 apps? The user base is growing with Windows 10, already 120 million users and growing. Now is the right time to act and to port current Windows 8.1 Phone and Windows 8.1 apps to one and new Windows Universal App format.
The app will then work in all Windows 10 devices – is it a PC, phone, tablet or an Xbox. And it would be a win-win for all Windows 10 users, regardless of the device.
Media publishers should consider all the benefits Windows 10 Universal Apps will bring; one code base, usability, functionality, consistency, design and brand management in one neat package. So ACT now!