UX Awards

The Premier Awards for Exceptional Digital Experience

Emergent – “Snopes for News” Details


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Emergent is a “Snopes for News” to uncover how rumors are created and spread. Created by Craig Silverman, Adam Hooper and Normative.

Craig Silverman has been examining news rumours for many years, and runs the popular blog Regret the Error which posts news rumours and corrections.

Craig came up with the idea for Emergent as a tool to uncover how rumours are created and spread . Emergent, a “Snopes for News”, was designed to give journalists and the general public the ability to discover the validity of news rumours and the news sources that were sharing unverified, true or false information.

Craig and developer Adam Hooper approached Normative to help bring this vision to life.

Our challenges were twofold:
1) to take the complexity of Craig’s deep analysis of news stories and make it easy to understand
2) to build a proof of concept prototype in 3 weeks to with a test group of users at an upcoming journalism conference

We started down two separate but related streams — data analysis and prototyping, and interface design.

Andrew Hull, our Technology Director, started down one stream, working with his team to pull data from the existing database, collecting it and graphing it in different ways. He found that there were a lot of questions around the meaning of this data, questions we couldn’t answer without looking at live visualizations.

While Andrew was modelling data, Matt Nish-Lapidus, our Design Director, was working with his team on user flows, graphing, and building visual relationships between different aspects of the data.

We had to consider how we could highlight the right types of information at the right levels and draw the right relationships between them.

Through three complete iterations over our three week timeframe we managed to create an initial version of the software.

We were excited to launch Emergent on time, and the project has received a great response from both the journalism community and the general public. In the first month after launch, the site received hundreds of thousands of site visits, and traffic continued to average at several thousand visits a day.

Why this project is worthy of a UX Award:

It’s a commonly held view that creating good user experiences only needs to happen when a product is past a certain stage in its lifecycle and there is adequate budget and time to focus on UX.

We put forward this project for this award to show that even when time is limited and resources are scarce, user experience doesn’t have to be sacrificed.

Emergent is an example of what can be done even under tight constraints, when the user is front and centre for team researchers, designers and developers.

We were able to take a complex user problem - finding truth in the avalanche of news media - and design a solution for the public to sort through news rumours without overwhelming them with the complexity of data behind the interface.

Submitted By: Normative

Client Name: Craig Silverman

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