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Sift's experiment in news therapy

Two-thirds of Americans feel overwhelmed by the news—but disconnecting entirely isn't the answer. Instead, companies like All Turtles are beginning to experiment with new ways to present the news without the usual sense of anxiety.

Their latest app, Sift News Therapy, helps readers stay informed without feeling overwhelmed. The app takes trending topics and breaks them down into a series of digital slides. As of this writing, the only topic covered is immigration policy within the United States, but the Sift team is actively collecting user feedback through the app about which topics should be covered next.

Upon first opening the app, users are prompted to “check in” and complete a simple onboarding survey covering users' feelings about the news. This survey provides a great way for Sift to collect valuable data that they can use to improve their app.

Information on each topic is presented as a series of slides. Each slide is backed by research, presenting one important thought or data point. Breaking down the information allows users to progress through the information at their own pace without feeling overwhelmed.

Many of the slides include interactive graphs and challenges, bringing a sense of fun and interest to the topic being presented and helping to capture users' attention and increase engagement.

Sift bills themselves as an “experiment,” actively inviting users to participate in their development. While the app is currently available for free, users are able to provide direct feedback to the developers on potential topic ideas as well as future pricing models.

Why this is Really Good UX:

  • Sift's experimental approach to collecting user feedback will doubtlessly help them improve the app in the future. Launching early with a limited amount of content gives users a taste of what's to come, helping the team spread the word and gauge interest before investing a large amount of effort into creating more content.
  • By breaking down complex topics into multiple slides—each of which presents a single idea or data point—and allowing users to self-direct their own pace of learning, Sift is able to remove the anxiety and overwhelm normally associated with reading the news.
  • Sift intentionally keeps their onboarding simple, offering users a short onboarding survey with space for optional qualitative feedback to gauge users' current feelings about the news. Given the straightforward design of the app, users need no onboarding to learn how they can begin reading the news.

Screenshots collected on 1/11/19