Marcel Stauffer, Head of Innovation at SWI swissinfo.ch
At the end of 2017, the SWI swissinfo.ch app underwent a redesign and gained a variety of new functions. The app tells readers about Switzerland in ten languages, in the form of news, commentary and background reports. All of the content on the swissinfo.ch website is offered in mobile format for tablets and smartphones.
Both design and navigation have been improved, so that users can find information on the Swiss economy, society, politics and culture even more easily.
Reader opinion is important to swissinfo.ch, so both its website and its app give them the opportunity to comment on content.
Considerable preparation goes into providing the content that is displayed so quickly and easily on tablets and smartphones, however. We spoke to Marcel Stauffer, who is in charge of innovation at swissinfo.ch. His responsibilities include the further development of the SWI app.
Marcel, why do we need an app? It is already so easy to access swissinfo.ch via the internet.
The app makes us more independent from the internet, and gives us more scope to offer our audience additional functions that can't be provided via a web browser. For example, we wanted to offer users alternative navigation options, or helpful additional functions such as being able to save articles.
What challenges did you face with your project?
We had a limited budget, so we focused on a sound basic app that suits us. We had originally thought of producing apps for other channels such as TV and games consoles, or creating specific apps for relevant issues, but have decided not to go ahead for the time being. Instead, we built an internal web service that will allow us to implement these options relatively easily if we need to in the future.
Is the app accessible for the visually and hearing impaired?
To some extent yes, but not entirely. We're making progress all the time in this respect, and will integrate functions such as voice control and adjustable font sizes into forthcoming releases.
Audience contact is important to swissinfo.ch. What happens to user feedback? Do you use it to improve the app?
Yes. We have included our readership in efforts to develop the app further, by factoring in their comments, as well as conducting a reader survey on improvements.
How do you think the SWI app will look in three to five years' time?
Where swissinfo.ch is concerned, for example, we'll be able to call up our information using voice commands. We will be able to read articles with our contact lenses, and of course augmented reality and virtual reality will become an increasingly important part of storytelling in journalism as they are in other applications. This takes readers to the heart of the action, they can control things themselves, and the whole experience thus becomes much more intense.