After another week of pondering our “hyperlocal situation,” I feel like we’re taking two steps forward and one step back. It’s progress nonetheless, but slightly stifled as we learn to navigate the space between testing, building and understanding the product we’re creating. I’m sure in the next week or so we’ll really pick up steam and plow forward with the project, but looking from the outside-in, it’s probably like trying to stream a video online with a really bad connection: You let it load for a while, the picture catches up to the load bar, and then you have to just wait.
Essentially, we’re speeding up to slow down. It’s not a bad thing–it’s part of the process, and certainly part of the process when implementing things like audience research (which is a fairly new idea when it comes to journalism) and usability testing and trying to incorporate those ideas with some new technology.
The tech team wanted to hit the ground running. They we’re looking to build something and test it within the first week, but they were told to slow down–there was research to be done.
The audience research team had to put their collective foot on the gas and develop personas (as Jordan so eloquently wrote out in her first blog post) to inform the business team and the tech guys. And once those were nearing completion…there was the thought that audience research should slow down and consider a few more persona options.
Start, stop, start, stop.
And now, with the techies eagerly trying to create a prototype, a bunch of us Audience research folks are trying to do usability testing with different groups to inform the product. So as they’re getting going again, we’re slowing them down.
I imagine a lot of this type of extensive research hasn’t really been done for the hyperlocal space, and I think that explains our process. We’re still learning how to properly integrate the different types of research and development–all inside of 11 weeks–and with people who are new to this type of thinking.
The traditional journalistic model says, “if we write it, they will come,” but that hasn’t worked so well for papers lately, has it? We’re approaching this project with a bunch of new ideas and there are sure to be hiccups along the road.
Today we did some usability test and passed along the results to the tech team. It will be interesting to see how usability testing informs the product, and I think we’re going to see some exciting results in the next few weeks.
After this week I think we’ll go beyond the erratic production schedule and really get into a groove with the way this stuff works.