NEW Audiences
service design case study
The Herald
Community newspaper in Indiana 📰
product & service
The Saturday Feature
Front page stories published weekly featuring documentary photography
Production involves a multidisciplinary team working on up to a dozen stories at any given time
Print subscriptions are declining faster than The Herald's digital products are growing
How might The Herald build on the Saturday Feature storytelling tradition to reach new audiences?
Time & Money
This project was undertaken while managing many other responsibilities and with no budget
🧢 🎩 👒
Saturday Feature Editor
Project Manager, Social Media Manager, Print & Web Designer

Photo Team Lead
Photojournalist, Photo Editor & Team Manager

Service Designer
Led research, design & strategy for this project

Product Audit

Let's take a look at what we're working with
A 2019 website screen annotated with notes as described below

A laptop showing a webpage surrounded with annotations reading: "Design treatment is the same as all online stories. Max image size: 600px. Text smaller than accessibility standards. Inconsistent with style guide. Photos pixelated on Retina displays. 5 advertisements." Emphasized in bold with all capitalized letters: "not mobile friendly"

💻 vs. 📰
4 page newspaper story layout with 6 photos, with notes as described below

A newspaper layout shows the front page with a large photo and headline. An annotation reads "design treatment is elevated to differentiate from other stories". A spread of two pages shows columns of story text, bold caption text, two smaller photos and one very large photo. Annotation reads "images of various sizes to create hierarchy and visual variety, including this 14 inch by 9 inch photo". A fourth page shows more story text and two photos of different sizes. Annotation reads "no advertisements".

Cross-Disciplinary Workshop

Led an ideation workshop with photographers, editors, and writers focused on the question of how we might use the Saturday Feature storytelling to reach new audiences
Photo of sticky notes on a wall grouped into four categories: community involvement, sharing, storytelling methods and types of stories
Four themes emerged:
the types of stories we tell,

our storytelling methods,

how we share stories,

& community involvement

Service Blueprint

A deep-dive into how the Saturday Feature gets made, plus opportunities uncovered through the service blueprint analysis process and collaborative ideation workshop
Service blueprint with four phases: story pitch, story reporting, story production and story publication

Customer Interviews

Conducted five semi-structured interviews with Herald readers in their 20s and 30s to get a sense of their relationship with the Saturday Feature and how it fit into their reading routine

The thing that I love so much about the Saturday Feature is that it gives you a look into people in the community that you otherwise wouldn’t know. It’s a good reminder that we’re all human and we all have our own stories and our own struggles, right here in the same community.


The resulting strategy included adopting new mindsets in regards to our approach to telling stories and integrating free tools to further our reach when sharing stories online


Rather than just aiming to share the stories with the community, we wanted to create more of a two-way dialogue.

By partnering with schools and community groups over an extended period of time, we allowed our readers to produce editions of the Saturday Feature that shared their stories first-hand while learning about and adhering to journalism ethics.

Derailed due to the covid pandemic, the staff had started planning a number of reoccurring events to deepen our relationship with the community and give them more of a glimpse into our storytelling processes. Events included coffee with an editor — open conversations at a local cafe, photo walks in public spaces led by a Herald photographer, and presentations celebrating the year in review roundup of coverage.

We started to prioritize under-covered topics and communities. This included stories focused on race, religion, gender, LGBTQ+ identities, people with disabilities, immigrant communities, and more.

A typical Saturday Feature followed a linear narrative story line, through both the photos and the words. We challenged ourselves to think outside of the limits of the black and white printed format and use methods to change the ways we reported and presented stories to create more variety and appeal to more audiences.

The entire team involved in pitching and producing Saturday Features was trained on user experience and learned to think of both the digital and print experiences from the moment the story was conceived, rather than after it was complete.

The shift in mindset was most noticeable in how journalists pictured The Herald’s audience. Previously, we imagined older people reading their Saturday morning newspaper over coffee. Now, we were thinking of how people would come across the story on social media and scroll through it, experiencing photos interwoven with the words, accessible on their phone anywhere they were.

The time-tested production of the printed Saturday Feature was not altered, though sometimes we were tasked with translating a digital-first story into print layout, rather than the other way around.


Since editors worked Monday through Friday, we looked for solutions that let us prepare the stories on Friday to publish on Saturday.

On Facebook, the Saturday Features were previously shared on Monday afternoons, after the daily stories were shared. We switched to using Creator Studio to schedule the posts to publish on Saturday and saw increased engagement.

Previously, Saturday Features were rarely shared on Instagram. I started using Later and Link In Bio to schedule photos and the story link to post on Saturday morning. This helped the stories reach the broader photojournalism community, which made up part of our Instagram following.

I worked with our developer to create a newsletter that showcased only the Saturday Feature and could be scheduled to send on Saturday. This also meant a separate mailing list for those who did not want a daily email.

The Herald sent out a Daily Headlines email newsletter Monday through Friday. Previously, the Saturday Feature was grouped with local news in Monday’s email. After the introduction of the Saturday Feature newsletter, the Saturday Feature story was still included in Monday’s Daily Headlines newsletter, though now under its own heading to highlight it further.

I implemented the use of Adobe Spark (now known as Express) to create web pages that can be embedded on the Herald website and shared directly to social media. The page launched within a lightbox effect in the user’s browser, so they did not need to leave the Herald site to view the story.

The Spark pages are also mobile-friendly and display visuals well. I set up custom templates using The Herald’s preferred typefaces, so the web presentations felt consistent with the print editions. The tool is easy to use and requires no knowledge of coding, so anyone in the newsroom could create a Spark story, if needed.



Measuring success through analytics — The main statistic used to entice advertisers and measure growth was page views
← each 👀 represents 100 views
Screen capture of the previous Herald website story page from 2019
818 average views per Saturday Feature story
increase in page views for Saturday Feature stories after all changes were implemented
Screen capture of a Herald story with a more modern look, including a full screen photo with the headline in the center
2,080 average views per Saturday Feature story
The Final Chapter
Meet Gen Z
The Voyage of Life

Mindsets in Action

Examples of stories published after the adoption of new storytelling mindsets
← each story opens in a new tab
Community Collaboration
The Final Chapter, a partnership with Tenth Street Elementary, was a collaborative project where a team of Herald journalists coached elementary school students in the roles of editor, photographer, and writer as they produced a Saturday Feature documenting their school’s last year.
New Approaches
for New Audiences
Meet Gen Z, an instant film portrait series showcasing diversity among the area’s youth, was a result of using creative storytelling methods and focusing on under-covered communities. It was the most viewed Saturday Feature of 2019.
The Story Experience
The Voyage of Life, a collaborative photo essay inspired by a series of paintings by the same name, was conceived with the digital storytelling experience in mind.