Time well spent with The New York Times


Advisor: Renda Morton (Executive Director of Product Design, The New York Times)

Team: Ke Hu, Johny Vino

Roles: research, interviews, synthesis, storyboard sketching, prototype ideation/concept, UX/UI

Categories: product design, UX / UI, video, prototyping



"I’m not very informed about the news.  I’m interested.  I think it’s time. I don’t have a designated time besides this morning email I get where I just look at news.  Actually some of my classmates, I’ll be busy working for the next class and they’ll just be sitting with their headphones and watching or reading the news.  I wish I could do that!  Maybe time management is a major issue."

-Carly, 23





The New York Times loses users of its app due to a myriad of reasons, some of them due to competition and cost but also including the following:

  • Coverage (they are unhappy about something they read)

  • Content not relevant to them

  • Life-changing event (moving)

  • Lack of usage



Amongst the sea of free news apps, how might we build incentives that lead to lasting habits for readers of The New York Times app in order to retain their long term loyalty?





Utilize opportune moments throughout the day to consume NYT content.

Not requiring a major overhaul of the existing NYT app, Timely adds a subtle and useful feature to the mobile landing page that will enable the user to read articles at opportune moments throughout a busy day. These moments include breakfast, commutes, before a meeting, during a coffee break or right before bed.

By connecting to your Google calendar and also a short onboarding in which you specify when you typically have meals or commute, Timely gets to smartly understand the user’s schedule.

Timely will give personalized access to articles that will be a quick read and, most importantly, are catered to each user’s interests, habits and schedules.


People with busy schedules who are interested in quality journalism, who may have small moments throughout the day in order to catch up on interesting articles from The New York Times.

Photo by  Toa Heftiba  on  Unsplash

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

TIMELY logo_white_black.jpg






Manual mode allows the user to pull up Timely when they have a small moment to spare to consume content. Rather than scrolling around endlessly for articles, Timely will feed pertinent articles to each unique user in the time span they specify they can spare.

THis mode does not require Google Calendar sync.




Auto mode gives the user a feed of personalized ‘curated’ content that fit within the small windows of free time throughout each particular day.

This mode requires Google Calendar sign-in and a simple on-boarding in order to understand the user’s schedule.

Articles can always be saved for later.






It was an honor to present at The New York Times HQ to members of their staff. We received insightful and positive feedback.

It was an honor to present at The New York Times HQ to members of their staff. We received insightful and positive feedback.





The New York Times is a storied institution with tremendous worldwide influence and global reach. Long regarded within the industry as a national "newspaper of record", The Times has also developed a reputation as one of the top innovators within web journalism, particularly for its innovations in multimedia and interactive data. 

In 2008, The New York Times created an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch which allowed users to download articles to their mobile device enabling them to read the paper even when they were unable to receive a signal. 


A 2017 Reuters Digital News report gave us insight on the state of news consumption globally.

  • After a period of little or no growth, there has been a jump in the use of news apps in almost all countries

  • Young Americans are paying for news

  • Factors influencing willingness to pay are: desire to fund 'real journalism', breaking news, quality reporting on recent events, in-depth analysis, commentary

  • Apple News has helped propel growth with their Spotlight news feed and mobile alerts

  • Validity of news sources is important

  • Young people still prefer text over video news

  • Time is a major factor in the ability to read the news

  • Google Calendar is the most popular calendar followed by Outlook and Apple.






Our assumption was that we could improve the menu of the NYT app by replacing the hamburger with a scrollable top menu where we could conveniently nestle the new Timely feature.

We realized how important it is to study both Android and iOS after our critique. (We had initially only looked at iOS). So our proposal was already used in Android users using the NYT app. Lesson learned.





I created these storyboards to illustrate the journey of discovery by the user of Timely and how they would utilize it throughout a typical day.

Having a deep interest in cinema as well as drawing, I really enjoy storyboarding live during iteration in order to understand the use cases and motivations of the user.





In order to get to our final concept, we went through numerous concept exercises, critiquing the ideas and iterating on them.





Exercise to determine pain points and motivations of the user when using news apps.





Additional concept exercises to formulate more concrete ideas.