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NPR One: An Award-Winning Cross-Platform Experience

Sep 20, 2017
Originally published on September 20, 2017 3:00 pm

Since launching NPR One in 2014, we've been working to deliver a news and storytelling experience that meets users in all the places they are now and will be in the future. For the Digital Media team, this has meant designing and building focused, yet flexible apps for smartphones, smart TVs, car infotainment systems, wearable devices, voice platforms, and more.

That's why we were honored to learn that Google has named NPR One the winner of the 2017 Material Design Award for Platform Adaptiveness. In Google's words:

The multi-platform design allows NPR One users to consistently perform tasks in a way that feels natural for each device, whether it's in your pocket, on your wrist, or in your car or home. Even the content feels adaptive, offering a programming range that gives users the option of getting caught up in just a couple of minutes, or diving deep into a topic of interest. Stories are well-organized, enabling targeted searching and casual discovery with equal ease.

"Platform adaptiveness" is more than simply forcing interface consistency on different devices. It's about understanding who our users are and how these various devices fit into their everyday lives, then using those insights to design cohesive experiences that are flexible enough to make sense—and feel at home—on each platform.

We know that wearable devices like smartwatches, for example, are intensely personal. People generally use them for tracking fitness goals, keeping tabs on their most important notifications, and taking quick actions. Our Android Wear app is all about quick, distraction-free control of the current listening experience with the ability to skip, rewind, or mark a story as "interesting" with a single tap. Compare that to our primary experience for Android phones: still a straightforward interface, but with more options for searching for stories and diving deeper into the back catalog of your favorite shows.

The goals and principles of Material Design have had a definite impact on our approach to interface design. By focusing on building interfaces "grounded in tactile reality" and with intentional use of motion to provide continuity, we've been able to create an audio-first experience that is tangible and comprehensible—thereby answering the question "what does NPR look like?" The bold, graphic visual style of the system is infused through all our platforms and the intentional use of whitespace puts focus where it belongs: on the news and stories told through the platform.

This award is a testament to the hard work of the full digital and editorial teams from NPR and our member station partners. And we're not resting on our laurels! You can expect to see continued improvements and enhancements to NPR One on every major platform in the months and years ahead.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.