A news platform aimed at participation
Follow the Money (FTM) approached Frontwise to completely overhaul their web platform. Frontwise helped FTM unlock the potential of visitor participation. At Follow the Money, user generated quotes can end up on the frontpage, users can add ‘shouts’ directly besides the text, members can add comments or join a Panel where their expertise is used to gain information on complex subjects. This way, we designed and developed the whole platform with the users in mind. Many new functions and concepts were created to put FTM in the lead as an innovative journalism platform. This functionality, when combined with the excellent journalism, solidified FTM's position as one of the best independent news platforms of the Netherlands, and allowed them to successfully switch from advertising revenues to a subscription based model.
Follow the Money has known for a long time that the comments below articles can contain extremely valueable insights. Frontwise made sure that members have have a great user experience when commenting, so they stay motivated to contribute to the platform. Gamification strategies are deployed to reward members for their input.
To unlock the true potential of comments, Frontwise designed and developed a custom commenting system. With this system, users can reward each other with points to make it easier to find the ‘pearls in the sand’. Comments placed by FTM editors are aligned on the right to allow you to see the conversation between readers and editors in a way instantly familiar from messaging apps.
Sometimes a comment has more impact if you can read it in ‘context’ of the article. Shouts are meant to be the ‘tweets’ of commenting. They consist of a short message that readers can insert right next to the line in the article they are commenting on.
Panels: getting direct answers from members
On the new FTM platform, members are invited to join Panels. A panel is a research tool that enables FTM editors to ask questions and share information on a certain topic. Frontwise created this custom tool with several question types to enable a great user experience to lower the threshold for participation as much as possible. A questionnaire can be filled in within 5 minutes, allowing users to contribute to cases FTM is working on.
Dossiers: moving people to see the bigger picture
The investigative journalism that FTM conducts can result in multiple articles per topic. For these cases ‘Dossiers’ were created in which all the articles are gathered in one timeline. Frontwise designed a viewer that shows a timeline of such a group of articles. This timeline is filled with articles written by an author, search results and even with tags. This allow the readers to see the crosslinks between articles, writers and topics. The bigger picture is very important in investigative journalism, and the timeline helps readers to see how a story unfolds through time. Together with tagging this creates a network view that readers can explore to dig deeper into topics.