If you want to connect with your readers, you have to give them value. The user needs model will help you choose the right angle. On this page, we try to explain what the user needs model for news means.

In today's crowded digital landscape, it's time to embrace a more creative approach to news content creation. The follow-up, where you cover the facts from a different perspective and keep your readers engaged for longer, is key. That's why we've created a smart notification system to help you choose the right editorial approach for your next story.

We improved our existing smart notifications inspired by the user needs model for news, developed by BBC World Service, which we are big fans of. 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.

Looking for our actionable user needs whitepaper?

can smart notifications help editors choose the right user needs approach for their story?

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. That's why it's so important to create news coverage that gives a different perspective of a news fact.

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

'Update me' fulfils the basic news need: what has happened? Most of the news stories created today fall into this category. But research has shown that the others have a much higher engagement rate. It's worth the effort to follow up these standard news updates with stories inspired by the other user needs.

we believe in impactful content and stories

The News, Needs, Notifications project

We enlisted the help of digital innovation expert Dmitry Shishkin, who was involved in the creation and implementation of the user needs at the BBC, to integrate the user needs model into our notification system. We created this system together with our clients, to provide them with a toolkit that helps them choose the right user need approach for every story.

Our project's goal was to:

  • highlight the value of user needs for the growth of the online publishing media's readership
  • prove how user needs boost the newsrooms' digital content strategy
  • facilitate journalists' efforts to engage with their audience more effectively

Stages of the project

  1. Zero measure: we took a close look at the current content of our participating newsrooms and how well it performed. Maybe they are already using the news user needs approach?
  2. Creation of the notifications: our data science wizards create an algorithm that recognises the user needs and offers the right notifications.
  3. Creating stories answering the user needs: the participating newsrooms start working with the notifications and create content according to the user needs approach.
  4. Evaluation: have the notifications and user needs approach helped the participating newsrooms to generate more engagement with their stories?

who's involved?

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. Here are some examples of what you can expect:

  • After a big spike in traffic this story is still attracting readers. Try creating a follow-up from an alternative user need perspective.
  • This story meets your readers' expectations! Try engaging them even more with a ‘Give me perspective’ follow-up.
  • This story was very popular, can your team create a follow-up from the ‘Educate me’ angle?
  • Twitter is going crazy over this story! How about an explanatory follow-up or an expert’s opinion?

Alternatively, the algorithm can identify the Facebook reactions on a story and provides you with tips for suitable follow-ups.

People are truly connected to this story. Give them more context.

People are impressed by this. Is it possible to write a more emotional or personal story about this?

Your audience finds this amusing! Create a ‘Divert me’ follow-up.

This story resonates with and touches your audience. Try writing a follow-up that gives more context or provides an explanation.

People are expressing their anger at this topic! Make a follow-up that shows more sides to the story.

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

Read the responses we got on the Triple N whitepaper.

Actionability is the key to prevent data overload in the newsroom

Read more about the project

They're here! Actionable user needs

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!

download whitepaper

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