USA Today Network Finds Success With Mobile Redesign

In August of 2017, the USA Today Network launched a redesigned mobile web experience. A year in, the mobile stats are showing improvement in various areas. Article scroll depth increased 86% year over year, while average time spent on those stories increased by 28%. Fronts have an improved image load speed of 400%.

The redesign has allowed the USA Today Network, comprised of more than 100 publications nationwide, to create a cohesive look across its publications with new tools targeting personalization features.

The company continues to evolve the look and technical offerings of its mobile websites. 

Jason Jedlinski, head of consumer product, told Publishing Insider: “The mobile web concepts we’re developing address our readers’ needs in several ways: show the depth of network coverage to users; maximize peak usage times and present stories accordingly; find ways our brands show up in social media and other distributed platforms.”



Jedlinski gave us a deeper look into how the redesign impacted the USA Today Network, from audience engagement to deepened revenue opportunities to collaboration between newsrooms.

Which aspects of the redesign have seen the most increased engagement specifically?

Two impactful redesign areas were our photo gallery template and video player experience. First, our gallery. We made a significant change from an in-line horizontal swipe experience to a standalone vertical scroll. We also improved how users enter into the photo gallery.

We now see a better balance of audience engagement and time spent within a gallery; users are viewing more photos and ads are loading more seamlessly.

Second, our video player. We aligned our player’s controls and design more closely to the features consumers are familiar with beyond our platform. We’ve consequently seen higher rates of video engagement and better completion times.

One of the most gratifying success stories from our “newsfeed” approach is one that’s somewhat invisible to our audience: the efficiency it’s created for our local newsrooms. Once editors heard how much less time was spent curating from our pilot markets, they asked when their markets could launch. 

Spending more time on newsgathering — letting an efficient design serve up the latest and trending news — is a benefit with dividends.

How has the redesign led to greater collaboration across the USA Today Network?

We have initiatives driving greater collaboration and content sharing. Another advantage of the less-curated “newsfeed” approach is being able to automatically blend content from multiple sources.

For example, headlines from seamlessly appearing on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s website without being programmed. National news and sports videos appear within lists of headlines, without individual local producers having to place them there.

How has the redesign allowed the network to grow?

We have been able to improve advertising yield through a more thoughtfully balanced ad map, adding more impressions per page while also deepening engagement. 

We’ve seen good growth in user engagement with mobile video, which has led to more pre-roll advertising revenue.

Reinforcing the scrolling nature of mobile has yielded benefits in engagement and revenue streams. We continue to pursue a deeper understanding of how our audiences find us on the web and have new concepts we'll test in the year ahead.

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