Keyword News Subscription on Bot

UNews makes up the next generation of news reading experience on the most trending platform, IM bot. Unlike the traditional news app, users get the instant news alert from keyword subscription.

Product Design

People love news and updates. We install news apps and read it in the metro; we check friends statuses on social platforms; we subscribe RSS feeds or blogs on specific topics, and we usually need notifications for all these updates. However, there is a group of user we’d likely forget, who used to track a particular item like stock, properties, weather changes, traffic conditions or entertainment gossips. UNews is here for these situations and alerts you about things that really matter to you.

Make it happen on the app

After stating the problem, we then came up with few user scenarios. One of them was to give traffic updates, weather signal notices and breaking news based on their regular journey and living area. For example, users will get a notification about MTR delays before going to work, so that they can re-route right away. Users also get travel information from a destination or browse a list of curated popular keywords if they don’t have one in their mind.

As keyword subscription is not commonly seen in the market, we build a “wizard” on the onboard flow to help users get started and avoid showing nothing after installation. Users can try them out step-by-step and enter any keywords after onboarding, which supports boolean searching, an advanced feature to make the subscriptions especially for you. By putting + between keywords, the system will look for content that matches the two keywords. This feature is undoubtedly incredible and should work efficiently like Google Alerts, but we dropped it due to some technical issues.

Onboarding Wizard help users familiar with keyword subscription

Subscribed keywords on Wizard, users will be directed to the homepage with segmented tabs “Latest News” and “Topics” on top. Some may be curious why the content (updates) has to be grouped and sorted differently. It is because:

  • Some users have difficulty on finding an article from the timeline if they have missed the notification
  • User takes priority on reading different topics
  • Easier to manage subscriptions
  • People use UNews differently. Let’s try it out!
Sort by latest and group by topics

We planned lots of stuff so far, but you may already notice, this story is not about the app, but an IM bot. We did try to build the app, but it was rejected by the App Store because of the overuse of webView.

IM Bot

The other concern is the intention of installing an app. We are used to reading news articles with a news app, but if the main feature is about receiving instant updates through mobile notification, an instant messaging software will do a better job than news apps, regarding the usage and technology.

Although bot has been discussed so much recently, its functionality still immature. Therefore we took away some features except the core one and focused on building bot experience and improving the accuracy of the content.

As our team is loyal Telegram user, we launched it on Telegram to verify the concept and popularity with friends and colleagues. Compared to app design, a bot experience is all about conversation. There are few points about building a (Cantonese / HK) conversational UI as a close for the user case:

  1. Sounds natural
    If you know the Chinese culture well, you will notice no matter what products they’re selling, the copy (i.e. frequent use“亲 (dear)”) always makes you feel like chitchatting with a mutual friend. However, it is too pretentious in a Hong Kong perspective. Although Cantonese is a spoken language, it is important to sound naturally and neutrally, especially when the product is a bot.
  2. Be concise
    There are lots of function words (虛詞) and particles (助語詞) to express feelings in Cantonese, but the sentence will become clumsy and lengthy if putting too much. As users always seek for a clear direction, a brief conversation will make the decision time shorter.
Product UNews – Zensis
Role Design Lead (Zensis)
App: Product, UX
Telegram Bot: Product, UX, UI, Product
UNews Portal Site: Design, Front-end Development
Platform Telegram Bot