Wall Street Journal

Earning Relevance – Wall Street Journal 2020 Initiative

Background and problem

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Much of The Wall Street Journal’s reporting alienates audiences who aren’t familiar with finance. The Wall Street Journal designed a 2020 initiative to revamp their digital strategy, and a large part of this strategy is making their journalism accessible for newer and younger audiences.

Earnings stories are inaccessible to readers unfamiliar with economics, but they are full of "fun fact" tidbits about human behavior. They can appeal to audiences outside the scope of finance news readers because they illuminate industry trends, and they shed light on important information about the wider economy. However, these interesting tidbits are often bogged down in giant blocks of text, context-less data, and hard to decipher terminology.

Role and Goals

As part of WSJ’s 2020 initiative, I helped redesign earnings reports on desktop and mobile to bring in new and younger audiences. The goal: make earnings stories more accessible to people who aren’t familiar with finance.  

Guidelines for rewriting hard-to-decipher earnings terminology

Rephrasing complex financial writing

Rephrasing complex financial writing

When you're writing about finance jargon, keep these principles in mind:

  • Be specific.
  • Add context wherever possible. 
  • Beware of industry-specific terms.
  • Use conversational language when appropriate.

Snapchat Discover

I helped produce this Snapchat story for The Wall Street Journal's Snapchat Discover page, as part of the initiative to revamp earnings reports for emerging media. It ran in May 2017. 

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Redesign

Users said that numbers in earnings stories deterred them from reading and comprehending the articles. I redesigned earnings articles so that the numbers would be allocated to a side chart, so the focus of the narrative about a company's earnings would take place in the text article.  

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Methodology and Iterations

Through extensive usability testing and prototyping new tools, we found that earnings reports can reach new audiences if presented in the right format. Our team held semi-weekly user testing rounds, where I tested my designs of new article formats on prospective readers of the Journal. 

    Iteration 1:  In this iteration, the numbers data is allocated to a side chart, but it's still too text heavy. While it's more accessible than having the numbers in the story, the size of the graphic is too similar in size to the body text, making it difficult for readers to understand the graphic is meant to be a supplement to the original article. 

 

Iteration 1: In this iteration, the numbers data is allocated to a side chart, but it's still too text heavy. While it's more accessible than having the numbers in the story, the size of the graphic is too similar in size to the body text, making it difficult for readers to understand the graphic is meant to be a supplement to the original article. 

 
    Iteration 2:  This design is slightly better than the first iteration because the headers make it clearer it's a supplementing graphic, and the content is condensed. However, the width of the graphic is still too similar in size to the body text for a supplemental graphic. 

 

Iteration 2: This design is slightly better than the first iteration because the headers make it clearer it's a supplementing graphic, and the content is condensed. However, the width of the graphic is still too similar in size to the body text for a supplemental graphic. 

 

Tools

New article format prototypes included web redesigns, Snapchat discover stories, platform native graphics for Instagram and Twitter, and video animations.