CNN Is Presenting a Revolutionary User Experience — Here’s What Devs Can Learn From Them

CNN Is Presenting a Revolutionary User Experience — Here’s What Devs Can Learn From Them

Kevin Kim


In the wake of the digital revolution, few industries have had to adapt as swiftly as the media. While Internet accessibility initially challenged traditional subscription models, media brands have increasingly found their footing in this new era by taking advantage of the latest web, mobile and other technological innovations. On Galaxy Apps, no offering is more representative of this than CNN. We’re proud to work with the media giant through a strong co-development partnership called Made for Samsung, which is managed by our Emerging Platforms team. After just six months in the store, they’ve climbed to top 10 in the ranking of free apps, with thousands of downloads a day and an impressive conversion rate.

CNN’s success in Galaxy Apps boils down to a simple concept, but one that’s critical for all developers to keep in mind — designing with the user in mind. In particular, they found three steps key to their success.


Thinking Beyond Mobile

With the current technological innovations in VR, wearables and various other IoT devices, we’re on the cusp of something just as revolutionary as mobile was a decade ago. Ownership of these devices has exploded, but there’s still a relatively limited amount of content — meaning users are hungry for experiences that only developers can provide.

Already the #1 news service provider in the US for both desktop and mobile, CNN chose to address consumers’ desire for content on alternative platforms as well by offering an app for Gear S smart watches. Diving into the wearable market has not only benefitted the end user seeking to make the most of their wearable devices — it’s also given CNN the unique opportunity to become early adopters in the rapidly growing wearables market, which as a whole is expected to reach 111.1 million shipments in 2016. With the mobile app market already well-established, it’s import to maintain a presence — but consumers have made their interest in wearables, VR and IoT devices and experiences clear. If you want the benefit of an early market lead, it’s up to you to meet them there now.


Capitalizing on Unique Device Features

When consumers buy a product, they expect a unique experience tailored to what that product offers. Gear S2 owners don’t just want a smartphone for their wrist, and folks who have bought a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge expect the dual-edge display to actually be leveraged. But too often, when developers build for these platforms, they try to transfer over the experience they’ve made available on mobile without making UX, backend and other necessary changes.

While CNN provides curated content and 1080p HD video across all of their apps, they’ve also made a point to take advantage of the unique capabilities that different devices provide. CNN users with Edge phones are able to view a scrolling news ticker across the edge of their phones, allowing them to check in on breaking news at a moment’s notice without diving into the app itself, while Gear owners can download a CNN watchface that highlights the latest headlines when users check the time.

Making the most of what devices have to offer is incredibly valuable for both consumers and developers. It engages audiences, validates consumers’ purchases and demonstrates understanding of the kind of experiences users want to have while on the go. And when developers can think consumer-first, they’re that much closer to striking it big.


Consistently Updating

This may sound like an obvious suggestion, but after having devoted so much time to building an app, it’s very easy to just publish it and forget it. But one of the fundamental principles of developing excellent software is testing and optimization — and that shouldn’t end once a product has been released. Regular updates are essential to retaining current users and acquiring new ones.

With that in mind, our team has worked together closely with CNN to continually enhance the user experience. The CNN co-development team at Samsung works around the clock to make sure there are no technical bugs, promote the app and incorporate feedback. This approach was really key in helping Samsung move away from assumptions about what app features our audience wanted. Early on, for example, we thought that the Gear S2 would lend itself better to video content, but when we heard users saying they wanted to actually read articles from their devices, we made that a priority. And we saw that attention to users’ wants and needs result in tangible increases in download numbers.

Even if you don’t develop for a major brand like CNN, their story can provide valuable takeaways for creating a winning UX. Meeting consumers where they are, delighting them with unique experiences and continually optimizing your content will translate to increased engagement and interest across the board. If you take these lessons to heart, who knows? You may just join CNN in the top ranks of Galaxy Apps.

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