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Mobile News Platform for Hyperlocal News

Shiny New Toys and Possible Features

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I’ve been playing around with Balsamiq, trying to play with different ways to play with a mobile site. I’m taking a lot of inspiration from everywhere. I particularly love The Boston Globe responsive redesign.

I was lucky enough to go to ONA this year and listen to Ethan Marcotte talk about what responsive redesign actually is. The reason I’ve gone with a mobile site as opposed to an App is that it simply isn’t feasible for the majority of news organizations to create an app that works with every single tablet and smartphone out there. I love some of the customizations you can do on an app, but for me it’s simply a matter of resources.

The thing that blew me away about Marcotte’s presentation is that almost nothing is defined by pixels. Every section is basically defined in percentages. But obviously, you can’t just resize content for a desktop and a smartphone and expect good results. That’s why Marcotte detects the pixel width (not the device) of your screen, whatever you’re on, and displays content accordingly. There aren’t 10 different designs for the 10 different devices, there are maybe three. He sets the breaking points for each design by pixel. If you want to read more about what he’s done with the Boston Globe, check it out on his blog.

This is one of those rare occasions when I believe that the new shiny toy is going to be amazing. I’ve been reading Marcotte’s book (I swear I don’t really know the guy and we are definitely not friends) on responsive web design and think I might have to go with this approach, rather than trying to emulate the feel of an app.

Back to my project.

I’ve come up with several things that I think are important for my mobile site to have.

• The ability to bookmark or save stories to read later. Maybe you see a cool article and you want to check it out on your laptop instead of your smartphone. Or maybe you know you have a long bus ride home and you want to read this article to kill time.

• Local Storage: I’m going to store the ten newest stories, plus 5 (?) of the bookmarked/saved stories. That way, even if you lose connection, you’ll still have those stories.

• I’ll explain this further in a future post, but I think the ability to make text larger or smaller is important, particularly on a mobile device.

• I’m going to have a weather widget at the top. Why something so simple and maybe silly? Because when it comes to local news, 89 percent of people check the weather.

Last update: For the geolocation portion of my project, I’d like to focus it a bit more. I’m still going to have an option to see recent news in order of proximity to you. But for the rest of my geolocation fun, I’m going to focus on local restaurants and food. If I can find a nice way to display it, linking to community events by location would be great too.

   • Posted by Bo Hee Kim on 11/22 at 11:17 AM

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Bo Hee Kim
Bo Hee Kim, a UC Berkeley graduate student plans to build a more user- and geo-friendly mobile news site for the journalism school's three hyperlocal sites that she hopes will ultimately be used by other local sites.

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