News Reading on IM
People prefer to choose news that is relevant to their interest and own lives nowadays. Some may read news from multiple places, but whichever news source is picked, we cannot gather and read all news articles in one place. RSS reader does a similar job, you can read all RSS feeds or news sources you subscribed in one software. However, the news may be irrelevant to your interests.
The users we are talking about and targeting, have a clear, specific news target to track. For example, stocks, weather warnings, current affairs, traffic incidents or research topics. This information matter to them, therefore the platform, in whatever form, should notify users once it gets the news.
First Trial: Mobile App
At the outset, with seeking everyday application as the starting point, the app feeds news like traffic updates, weather warnings, and breaking news according to user’s daily commuting and living area. Therefore the app asks for this info to push notification on MTR delays or bad weather at the right time. Other than that, users can feel free to enter and subscribe a topic or pick from the most subscribed ones if they don’t have one in their mind.
To onboard users, the subscription wizard educates users on how to subscribe topics including the boolean searching, which may look too advanced, and as mentioned, fill in their geographic information to push location-based news.
For the main screen, considering reading habits and usage, it provides two groupings, users can read the latest news or locate an unread article from the topic list.
The app, unfortunately, did not pass the app store review, which led us to re-think the actual usage and platform worked best for users. General news apps catch the fancy of readers with extra features and content. However, our target users would not need these, but a straightforward platform to receive instant updates like instant messenger.
Our Answer: IM Bot
Instead of transferring features from the app, we first launched the Telegram bot with the minimum features to verify the concept internally. Any complex features like boolean are taken away to keep the experience focused. The experience also plays differently, an IM bot is all about the conversation. Here are some considerations in building a Cantonese conversational UI:
The language difference between Mainland China and Hong Kong is not only the characters. In Mainland China, the frequent use of “dear” (亲) for example, try to narrow the distance with readers, making you feel like chitchat with a mutual friend. However, it sounds pretentious, awkward to Hong Kong people, as they expect a more neutral tone from a bot, so dialects, voice and tone play a strong role in conversational UI.
Cantonese has many function words (虛詞) and particles (助語詞) to express feelings, but at the same time, they make the sentence clumsy and garrulous. Wise use of words, keeping it clear will definitely help user to make and enter his decision.