A woman is using the new NZZ audio player while cooking.

A new news format – NZZ’s “Text-to-Speech” audio player

17.10.19

What if you could read the paper while driving? With Neue Zürcher Zeitung’s new “Text-to-Speech” audio player, that’s (almost) possible. We helped NZZ to develop this idea.

In a nutshell

  • With NZZ’s new “Text-to-Speech” player, every online article of the newspaper can also be played as an audio version.
  • We evaluated the usability of the audio player, provided UX design consulting and worked with NZZ on the visual design.
  • NZZ’s UX team appreciated in particular the critical view that we were able to bring to the project as an external party.

The project

How can newspapers remain relevant in the digital age? They need creative solutions that make good use of new technologies. That’s what the new NZZ audio player does: Using text-to-speech software, each of the newspaper’s articles is now also available as an audio version. We helped NZZ fine-tune this audio player.

Three smartphones are shown next to each other to illustrate how the NZZ player works.
With the new text-to-speech audioplayer, each of the newspaper’s articles is now also available as an audio version.

The Vision

The audio player caters to NZZ’s readers in situations where reading would be impossible: while cooking, jogging, or driving a car. The goal of the project was to create a player where readers could easily switch from text to audio and back. For example, you can now start reading an article during breakfast and finish it while driving to work. Effectively, you can “take along” the newspaper in an entirely new way.

Our contribution

We were brought on board as a sparring partner during the project. NZZ’s internal UX team appreciated in particular the critical outside perspective and the new ideas we brought to the project.

In addition to a usability check and UX design consulting, we helped to fine-tune the design of the audio player. This also included finalising the texts of the audio player (so-called “microcopy” or “UX writing”).

An animated gif illustrates how the play button turns into an equalizer when someone starts listening to a news article.

An example: For the mobile app, we faced the questions: What happens if someone listens to an article and at the same time searches for other articles? How can we ensure that it is immediately clear which article you are listening to? We developed a small but effective animation to resolve any confusion: The play button turns into an equalizer.

The result

Using text-to-speech, every article on NZZ.ch and in the NZZ app is now available as an audio. The audio service is pleasant to listen to and enables NZZ to offer every article in audio format in a cost-efficient manner.

See (or rather listen) for yourself: After a quick, free registration, you can listen to any article on NZZ.ch or in the NZZ app with the integrated audio player.