Yesterday, The Financial Times launched FT Edit, their new, digital-only edition. Publishing 8 articles a day, FT Edit is aimed at converting people from its 26 million strong social media following to become subscribers. This aim is reflected in the pricing of the app. The app is free for the first month, 99p per month for the next 6 months and then £4.99 per month.
FT Edit is particularly easy and straightforward to use. The app offers a clean and smooth edition format and presents an opportunity for more casual and light newsreaders to get engaged with the FT’s content. It may however lack substance for more hardcore or heavier newsreaders wishing to get more. Most interestingly, the FT have chosen to bring this new format under the form of a mobile digital only edition, currently only available on Apple. We look at the new app in more below.
The key value proposition of FT Edit is very clearly put across in its welcome note from Editor Roula Khalaf. The note makes it clear that the selection of articles is handpicked. This means that Editors have taken their time to carefully discuss which articles will provide most value to the edition and stay true to ensuring readers get the essential news of the day. This goes for the human touch, rather than relying on an algorithm.
The condensed nature of the edition is also referenced, with readers being told they can
“Read less and understand more.” This signals a clear focus on learning and providing a curated and finite experience. The fact that the note comes from Editor Roula Khalaf helps to consolidate this value proposition, signalling the newsroom are central to this new product.
A minimalist yet informative experience
The app sticks with a traditional newspaper format. Featuring the financial paper’s traditional cream backdrop, the reader certainly knows that they are consuming a clean and crisp quality product. The layout of the app very much follows suit. The homepage offers 3 bottom-line navigation buttons: “Home”, “Saved” and “Settings”.
Above, a carousel of 8 article presents you with your 8 deep-dive stories of the day. Each carousel slide has a featured image, along with the article title, a short 1-line teaser and predicted reading time. The addition of the estimated reading time puts the reader in control of their time.
Upon completion of reading a story, the teaser is replaced simply with the message “Completed”. What is done particularly well here is that the article is not marked as completed until readers have scrolled all the way to the bottom of the article. There is no space for news cheats here!
Also on the homepage is the app’s archive, located behind the button “previous”. Upon selecting this, subscribers can access the archive of previous editions. With the app being a new launch there is no scope yet on how far back subscribers will be able to dive.
The in-article experience is still very text rich
Inside the article, the story of traditional news continues. Each article features a header image and of course the author’s names and locations.
Scrolling is easy, with articles featuring links out to other FT stories which open automatically in the app to encourage readers to engage with other FT content and push readers to subscribe to the full FT offering. Other links also take you to external pages as well to get further information. Interactive infographics and images slot effortlessly into the article feed however there does not appear to be an image gallery. There also does not seem to be the function for readers to swipe through the edition without having to go back to the homepage.
Each article features social sharing in the top right-hand corner alongside an icon allowing readers to save the article. Saved articles can be accessed on the homepage in the saved section, letting readers keep tabs on their favourite stories or simply just to read them later.
The feeling of the finite experience is powerfully signified when reaching the end of the daily 8 articles. A black slide card appears in the carousel highlighting that new stories will be published every weekday at 8.00am. One knows that they have finished their newsreading for the day as they are presented with the words “The End.”
Why the edition approach?
It is remarkable that the FT has chosen an edition format to bring this new product to the market. Editions have made a remarkable comeback. We have seen several publishers use them to bring their products to the next level, like Espresso at The Economist and 12 at Tamedia. Editions respond to a key need of readers to receive overviews, briefings, and finite experiences.
In a busy world of live newsfeeds and doomscrolling, editions offer readers the opportunity to engage with a piece of finite news. We are curious to see how this will evolve in the months to come. In a world of never-ending news, could the FT Edit finite format take off?