As part of the Tailored Experiences team, I was charged with looking at one of FT.com’s biggest engagement drivers, called MyFT. A system by which users can follow topics or authors and get briefings or notifications on subjects that are relevant to them. Much of the work during this time was analysing a large volume of research and creating a series of concepts to bring the product forward.
The redesign of this feature involved cleaning up the existing UI patterns and rationalising the extensive development conducted over a number of years by the Tailored Experiences team. This feature of the FT has reached a certain level of maturity, and I envision that once enough data and learnings have been collected, it will move into its next manifestation in a more invisible, intelligent way. It is very much a version one of what it can and will grow to be.
The user can discover this feature in a number of ways. They could be reading an article and decide to follow the corresponding topic by clicking the "add to myFT" button, they could also receive a notification or they could go directly to it by clicking their "myFT" icon from anywhere in the website.
Upon discovery of the feature, a contextual on-boarding may or may not take place, dependent on how many topics the user is following, and whether they need to follow more topics. For example, if the user is following nothing, they will be presented with a "cloud" of topics to get them started, and to generate their first iteration of a feed — which they can edit and personalise further at a later date.
Once an initial feed has been created, the user can start exploring and reading content based on the topics they are following. The use cases for this product have proved to be very broad, and it could be easy to cater for super-users alone — users that tend to use every feature with much competence. Based on this we need a tool that serves both this group and newer, or less committed users alike. Say you are a consultant to many industry types: you would need to be able to stay up to date on a broad range of topics, and the knowledge you require would often change, potentially on a daily basis. Alternatively, you may be working in a specific role in a niche industry, so your topics would be fairly fixed. That being said, subjects such as "Brexit" and "US Politics" could be influential in a broader range. Ultimately the tool needs to be simultaneously as simple and accurate as it can be, without so much complexity that it is unmanageable.
Once users are on-boarded and have started to understand the feature, we need ways to promote and surface topics and content that we think could be relevant to them. This takes many forms to be expanded upon in future, including: a "ribbon" of recommended stories based on the reading history and topics being followed; a popular topics component that recommends topics and provides example content in the form of the illusion of a content package; a curated topic "collection", that is curated by the editorial team, surfacing some of our superstar topics that play a larger role in our news agenda; a myft "navigator" that is placed on articles and stream pages and can be interacted with in the context of a user reading content.