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Improving the Hindustan Times news app experience— a UX case study

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Hindustan Times is one of the leading news platforms in India, which was founded in 1924 and inaugurated by none other than Mahatma Gandhi. I discovered it while looking for a news app to keep up to date on the new COVID-19 variants. I assumed that an app with such a large following and history would reward its users with a rich user experience, but the Hindustan Times news app in its current state violates numerous UX heuristics and WCAG guidelines, resulting in a variety of usability issues.


My goal was to understand users’ response to the current Hindustan Times mobile app, find pain points and propose a solution to improve their experiences


UX Designer, UX Researcher and UI Designer


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Problem Assumptions

First, I began with some assumptions about the existing Hindustan Times news apps These assumptions were based on my own testing:

Low content discovery: Almost 70% of the news was about celebrities and cricket. This, I believe, resulted in a high bounce rate.

Poor navigation: I couldn't figure out where I was or what the main features of the app were. There was no search option on the screen. 

Too many ads: Ads were taking up almost 50% of the screen estate.


First, I did some secondary research on news apps by reading some articles about them. Then I studied some of the world's most popular news apps. Then I looked up reviews of Hindustan Times news on Google Playstore.

Then, I conducted an interview with 5 users of any news app to understand what motivates or demotivates them from reading the news and their news consumption habits.

Insights from the Interview

  • Their main goal to use the news app is to stay updated on the trending news.

  • Every participant said they like personalized news.

  • Actions they use the most on a news app are saving and sharing the news.

  • Some participants felt that endless notifications during working hours could get annoying.​

  • All participants said that the only reason they feel demotivated to open a news platform is because of Ads.

Guerilla Usability Testing

To understand more about the problems of the current app, I conducted guerrilla usability testing on the same 5 participants. I gave them certain tasks while taking notes on their comments, questions, and how they used the app's existing features.

Some of the tasks I gave them during the testing were:

  • Open the app and read the news article that you find interesting.

  • How do you save the news article?

  • How can you read the news article you saved again when you want to re-read it?

Insights from the testing​

  • It took some time for participants to find interesting news.

  • Some users were unable to save news and locate the saved news feature.

  • Every participant was clearly annoyed by the ads.

  • Participants had no idea what were the app’s main features.

Affinity Mapping

The findings of the user research were analyzed and categorized using affinity mapping. The affinity map assisted me in brainstorming and developing potential solutions to the users' pain points.

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Defining the pain points​

Based on my research, here are the four issues I've decided to focus on:

  • Navigation: Important features such as "E-Paper" and "Quick Reads" are difficult to access. The 'Search' and 'Saved news' pages are hidden. There are no headings on the sections such as 'top news,' 'latest news'.

  • No personalization: Users have no control over what type of news they want to see. Most of the news is about celebrities and cricket.

  • Advertisements: A couple of participants said they felt demotivated to open the Hindustan Times app because of so many ads.

  • Notifications: Users received a lot of irrelevant notifications. Also, notifications during their working hours annoyed them.

Paper Sketches

For low-fi paper wireframes, I carefully went through the current UI of the Hindustan Times mobile app because generally, users don’t like radical improvements. They expect your design to resemble the one they’re used to.


Design Results

Pain Point 1: Navigation

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My top priority was to give simple and intuitive navigation because the current app does a poor job of delivering the content in an intuitive way. It depends on the top app bar for its navigation which can get messy very quickly as you have to sort through several tabs to reach the desired topic.

  1. Added an expandable search icon

2. The 'Top News' label was added to the top of the section so that users would read the most relevant stories first because most people are interested in the top news.​

3. Grouped the important actions to make it more accessible.

4. Added a bottom navbar which is divided into 4 sections, Home | Quick Reads | Saved | E-Paper. Each section is the main feature of the app and now it is always at the user’s fingertips

Pain Point 2: No personalized news

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Personalization is essential for increasing app engagement. We live in an age of instant gratification, where we expect to get what we want right away. If the app does not meet the needs of the users, they will most likely switch to your competitor's app, which we do not want to happen. Users should have the ability to customize their news reading experience.

  • Made a screen where users can select the channels they want to see on the homescreen.

  • Added a ‘Following’ tab in the top app bar where users will see the news of their interests in a scattered way which will make the app more engaging.

Pain point 3: Advertisements


Now here's the thing: while ads are important for generating revenue, they are also one of the primary reasons why users abandon apps. Overloading users with ads on the home screen is a recipe for disaster. My biggest challenge was figuring out how to make the ads not bother the users while they were using the app.

  • Ads placement and UX should work hand in hand. The larger ads are at the end of the section, and the smaller ones are after 4–5 news items.

  • Made a separate section for ads so that the content does not look crowded.

Pain Point 4: Notifications


Now, this was a little tricky because, during the research, I find out that notifications are one of the main reasons to open the app. We don’t want the users to completely turn off the push notifications, so I had to find a common ground here.

​1. Added a ‘Do not disturb’ option for users who don’t want to receive notifications every other hour. They can easily activate this option during their working hours.

2. Added ‘Personalized Picks’ for users who complained about irrelevant notifications. They can select the topic on which they would like to receive updates.


The younger generation is changing the way they consume news, and Hindustan Times must adapt to keep up. They are one of India's leading news platforms, but it would be better if they supported it with a good user experience to retain their loyal userbase.


This was my first case study and I thoroughly enjoyed working on it. I learned so much about the news industry through working on this project.

I also learned that it's too easy to assume we know what's best for the users, but this isn't the case. To finally get that final product, we must test it and repeat it on a regular basis. Second, I believe that some of the aspects would have been easier to complete as part of a team. It would have saved me a significant amount of time.

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