General Desktop & Mobile Sites: Responsible Innovation

New PinkNews website on desktop and mobile

In November 2022, we launched a brand new website to be as inclusive and accessible as possible for our global audience, looking at the project through the lens of what is best from our wide range of readers’ perspectives. Our goal was to elevate PinkNews to a whole new level by extending the reach of our content globally whilst ensuring the highest levels of inclusivity and accessibility as possible – everything from font sizes to colour contrasts was taken into consideration. At the same time, we wanted to create something scalable that adhered to SEO guidelines so we could grow our organic traffic.

The PinkNews Tech Team

Our tech team over the course of six months, embarked on a huge project to help improve the accessibility, inclusivity and reach of our LGBTQ+ content to ensure it could be accessed by as many people as possible. The team rebuilt the entire website and apps from scratch following WCAG guidelines to make them as inclusive and accessible as possible. They switched our domain to a .com to increase our visibility globally and upgraded our CMS to give our editorial team more control over how we present and curate our content. Content that elevates marginalised voices and highlights the diversity of the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum. 

Key new features of the PinkNews website are:


1. Accessibility

By adhering to the global W3C process and its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) we’re hoping to make the new PinkNews website as inclusive and as accessible as possible. We’ve incorporated the following improvements:

  • New design and layout, using a component library that easily scales to suit multiple devices
  • Colours used have passed accessibility tests for visually impaired people
  • Correct image labelling to ensure the best experience for people using screen readers
  • Enabled text-to-speech functionality on articles, so our audience will be able to listen to stories
  • Choosing a font that is easy to read
  • Incorporated elastic-search to make it quicker and easier for readers to find what they are looking for

In addition to the standard features above we’ve also rolled out AI powered text-to-speech across all of our articles and most recently a unique video component that’s let our readers watch the words being read out to them, this creates a more immersive and easy-to-follow reader experience and is another digital first for PinkNews.

PinkNews website on a laptop

2. Sustainability

The PinkNews digital experience offers our audience an accessible and inclusive environment to read global news stories based on politics, entertainment, culture and lifestyle told through the PinkNews lens. Our audience will be able to set preferences, view curated content linked to their desired choices and react to articles using our emoji reactions tool. By monitoring how our readers respond to articles we can then use this to curate our content for the wider PinkNews audience, for example rounding up our most heart-warming stories to share with our newsletter subscribers or highlighting the stories that have got our audience all fired up on our homepage.

Results

Our new website, which was relaunched last year, has had some extremely positive feedback since launch and we are seeing very positive figures from our audience engaging with the site.

Our accessibility score on Google Core Web Vitals is 95/100, a massive jump from a score of 50/100 pre-launch. We’re aiming for this score to be 100/100 by the end of summer this year. Our SEO has also jumped to 99/100.

Our organic search traffic continues to increase by 100% YoY, with a 20% increase in traffic overall and a 15% increase in recirculation traffic, showing how our audience is moving around the site with greater ease due to the new easy-to-navigate format. As a result, our page views per session have more than doubled since we launched.. We have also seen a 25% increase in direct traffic.  The new PinkNews website is now within the top 7% of global websites tested for emitting fewer carbon emissions, a sustainability improvement of 70 per cent (websitecarbon.com). This decrease has been achieved by the website running more efficiently through writing cleaner code, optimising images and improving SEO, which reduces the time it takes people to find what they are looking for. 

Our text to speech functionality has also been popular, in the first week of launch our articles were listened to by over 15k people and our average listen time is over two minutes per article.

App Features: Technical Achievement

In November 2022, we relaunched our mobile apps alongside our website with the aim of making our digital experience more inclusive and accessible. This relaunch allowed us to reimagine our app experience and user capability, putting our app users at the heart of the new product.

The new apps (available for both Android and iPhone) allow our users to not only read and engage with our content that elevates marginalised voices and highlights the diversity of the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum but also allows them to personalise their experience.

Key new features of the PinkNews News app are:

1. Uplifting News Filter

The uplifting news filter is a digital-first that enables our app readers to only see good news stories, in a world filled with increasingly negative news, at the flip of a switch. A Reuters 2021 study showed that 46% of people in the US actively avoid the news, this was up 22% from the year before due to reasons including a lack of diversity, news making them feel depressed and that they did not think or feel that they had any control over the stories being covered. 

2. Personalisation

The PinkNews global audience is highly engaged and ranges from Gen Z to the post-war generation from across the LGBTQ+ community; each is looking to experience PinkNews in a different way that suits them. Within the new PinkNews apps, each person can create a personalised news feed based on their personal preferences, allowing them to get a digital brand experience that suits and serves them best. The PinkNews digital experience via the app offers its audience an accessible and inclusive environment to read exclusive news, interviews, features and opinion tackling LGBTQ+ issues from around the globe.

The PinkNews audience can set preferences, view curated content linked to their desired choices and react to articles using our bespoke emoji reaction tool. By monitoring how PinkNews’ readers respond to articles,  the data can be used to curate content for the wider PinkNews audience. For example, rounding up PinkNews’ most heart-warming stories to share with newsletter subscribers or highlighting the stories that have got the PinkNews audience all fired up on the homepage

Results

Despite the app only relaunching in late November, the initial feedback from our audience has been extremely positive, with the uplifting news filter being a highlight for our audience who have given reviews on the app store including: “The uplifting content only feature is a fantastic addition for helping people with mental health issues — well done for adding it!”.

The innovation shown by the PinkNews team in producing the “uplifting news filter” has also highlighted us as a publisher who is leading the way in a profound way in press articles, including an interview with PinkNews Chief Product Officer Sarah Watson in Press Gazette. Since the re-launch of the app, our app retention rate is 30% (10% above average) with 50% of app users using it more than once a week.

We also recently won Product Development Team of the Year at The AOP Publishing Awards and App of the Year at The Drum Online Media Awards.

Since the re-launch of the app, our app retention rate is 30% (10% above average) with 50% of app users using it more than once a week. Our engagement time is 12 minutes per session and our app store score ranks at 4.6/5.