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Turning the Telegraph into a digital first organisation is “brilliant but terrifying”, says head of UX Jane Austin


By Natalie Mortimer, N/A

October 16, 2014 | 3 min read

The process of evolving the Telegraph into a digital-first organisation is “brilliant but terrifying” the media group’s head of UX Jane Austin has said, as it looks to create more content such as its recent "alternative" World Cup website Project Babb.

Jane Austin

Image by Bronac McNeill Photography and Film

Speaking at The Drum’s Joy of CX event in London today, Austin said that the Telegraph is trying not to be “too UKIP” and is looking to attract a broader, younger audience, which is inherently online

“We’re trying not to be too UKIP right now, we’re going through a brand change as well. We’ve been going for 150 years which means 54,000 days of producing a newspaper, which means 54,000 days of a legacy of doing things; it is incredibly difficult to change.

“The product team and journalists together are trying to change the Telegraph to be a customer centred, digital-first organisation and it’s brilliant but terrifying at the same time.”

Austin revealed that when she joined the title last December it hadn’t launched a new product for two years, and was also trapped in a world of “defensive documentation” which had held it back from progressing digitally.

“They documented every possible thing that could go wrong, to the point that nothing was ever raised – they were terrified. We’ve changed that and what we do now is deliver small things and that means we can test them.”

The Telegraph looked at the data from its app and realised that four out of five people were failing to convert. As a result it created a prototype which refreshed the way the app prompted people to subscribe, and then carried out a testing session with members of the public in a coffee shop.

“Bad design damages business goals, you can’t interface design your way out of the wrong proposition.

“We learnt to make mistakes faster and that little things make a big difference; little design tweaks make a phenomenal difference.”

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