The User Needs Model 2.0 will help you choose the right content strategy and the best angle for every story. On this page, we try to explain what the user needs for news mean.

User needs are at the heart of building a true bond with your audience - one that is based on trust and value. Any newsroom can be successful as long as it finds its product-market fit and its output satisfies audience user needs strategically, consistently and creatively. Ultimately, we would like to give you tools, techniques and examples, showing you how the model can work for you and how it leads to various alternative and attractive stories.

User needs analysis in the newsroom is the first step to create more impactful content, that generates higher engagement and a stronger connection to your readers. We have the data to back this up.

The user needs model is the ultimate guide for storytelling

What do people want from news?

Modern audiences are becoming more demanding when it comes to news. They're not simply looking for updates, they also want to be educated on certain topics, read inspiring stories and learn more about possible solutions to problems. Many readers are looking for stories that provide them the knowledge they need to participate in conversations, make decisions about things that affect them and keep a more positive outlook on current events.

The BBC World Service developed the user needs model after thorough research into the demands of their own audiences. When questioned, people offered different reasons why they consume news, which can be summed up in six 'user needs':

  • Update me
  • Keep me on trend
  • Give me perspective
  • Educate me
  • Divert me
  • Inspire me

New user needs (2023)

Helpfully, some publishers, like the BBC in its initial groundbreaking research, shared their insights publicly, and by doing so strengthened the trend. Amongst the early adopters were Buzzfeed, Wall Street Journal, Vogue, TRT and Culture Trip. Recently, Atlantic, Vox and LAist have become the latest publishers to write up their strategies.

Fundamentally, the new model distils the wisdom, experience and learnings from both our own research and development and those approaches used by other publishers and presents it into a rock-solid schema. The new model is both more comprehensive and more actionable than those before it, and its visualisation is strikingly clear. One of the original user needs has been reframed; two new user needs have been added.

To do justice to all user needs that have been developed by various publishers in recent years, we added a final ring to the mother model, containing brand specific needs. In many cases, they define what visitors are looking for even more clearly - and they often give a brand more colour too. We created a dynamic document with all the user need models out there, brand specific needs included.

Outlets that spend time carefully considering their niche and their brand DNA - and then how user needs can and should be applied to it - are those that understand their product/market fit best.

User Needs Model 2.0

we believe in impactful content and stories

The News Needs Notifications

This is what's going to make all the difference in the newsroom: smart notifications that advise when to apply the user needs approach for a follow-up, and which perspective to choose, based on story performance and audience behaviour.

We have many more ways to help your organisation with the implementation of user needs. Please ask us if you need any help.

Project results

We started this project to integrate the news user needs approach in our tool, the notifications and our consultancy. That's how convinced we are that adopting this approach will benefit editorial rooms everywhere. Editors tend to overproduce the content that is performing the least. If you make the switch to other formats and needs, you can expect a major change. So we say, let's put all that effort towards creating content that performs demonstrably better. At the beginning we had the following hypotheses, and they have all been proven right.

  • These user needs exist and are valid for newsrooms today
  • We are able to recognise from the data if the audience wants a user need in relation to topics
  • If we send out notifications in real time and they are followed up, the connection to the audience is much stronger

Do you want to implement the user needs approach but need help? We work together with consultants of FT Strategies to make sure you'll be able to change the workflow of your newsroom.

Get started with the user needs

If you see in the power of implementing the User Needs model into your newsroom, then we have lots of helpful content and packages to get you started. It's up to you if you want to start small, with printing a poster, or go big, with one of our User Needs Packages.

Go straight to the downloadable materials →

Go straight to the User Needs Packages →

Download the User Needs Playbook→

Read more about the project

download whitepaper

It's here! User Needs 2.0

Our whitepaper is the culmination of our research on the user needs, the measurements we did with our clients, and the results of experiments and growth hacks. We can't wait to share everything we've learned with you, use it to your advantage!

User Needs model 2.0 © 2023 by Smartocto is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

We worked on user needs before in our 'Triple N Project'. Here you can download the old whitepaper: