Though BuzzFeed was once known only as a source for fun, viral listicles, in recent years the site has increasingly focused on publishing hard-hitting, deeply reported stories, and today almost half of its 300 editorial staffers work on news. To give its news coverage a mobile home, the online media powerhouse on Thursday released the BuzzFeed News app. BuzzFeed News for iOS will offer straight news without the quizzes and listicles that pepper the flagship BuzzFeed app.
“We’ve got a clear commitment to making sure that nobody ever has news FOMO, in the sense that we want you to feel briefed,” BuzzFeed News app editor Stacy-Marie Ishmael tells Fast Company. “We want you to feel interested in what’s happening around you and equipped with the information–the stats, the videos, the Vine of the moment–that will help you talk about that. “
The app is intended to be an extension of the company’s distribution strategy, another avenue by which BuzzFeed can serve the 25 million users–more than 70% of whom are women–who flock to BuzzFeed News each month. (Across all its platforms, BuzzFeed draws a monthly audience of 76.7 million.)
The first step, as Ishmael notes, is to figure out your audience. Beyond that, how do you get your product in front of people and have them actually use it, especially when so many people rely on Facebook or Twitter for the bulk of their media diet?
“We’re not trying to be the news app for the power Twitter user,” Ishmael says. BuzzFeed is targeting people who may not have too much time but want to stay informed–those who might not have committed to a “go-to news app” just yet.
One way in which the app hopes to attract users, even those who aren’t already partial to BuzzFeed, is by linking to external news outlets. You’ll find articles from the Washington Post and the New York Times sprinkled throughout your newsfeed. The idea, Ishmael explains, is to be a portal of sorts: “If you only go to one place, we will send you to everywhere else that you need to go.”
The look of BuzzFeed‘s app may feel somewhat familiar to those who already frequent the popular NYT Now news app: The layout is simple, featuring one column called “Catch Up” and another column for alerts that allows you to tweak push notifications. Once you’ve scrolled through the day’s news, you’ll see a note that says “You’re all caught up.”
The app is also conspicuously less yellow than BuzzFeed faithfuls might expect–Ishmael points out that this was a conscious decision, based on the fact that yellow can be overbearing on a small screen.
“We tried to be faithful to the BuzzFeed brand identity while being more aligned with the BuzzFeed News color palette, which is more restrained and less OMG,” Ishmael says. “You don’t want an app that feels depressing if you’re talking about a new Beyonce album, but you equally don’t want an app that feels like you’re not taking the migrant crisis in Southeast Asia seriously.”
One of the best features in the BuzzFeed News app is the inclusion of elements like pull quotes, bulleted lists, and embedded tweets in the news digest. These can be directly shared to social media, and also manage to shake up the format of the news presented in the app. The goal, according to Ishmael, is to present BuzzFeed stories in a way that is distinct from their web format.
Another feature that sets the app apart from other news apps, such as NYT Now, is the ability to subscribe to specific push notifications for world news, U.S. politics, LGBT issues, and other topics regularly covered by BuzzFeed News. At the moment, the app even allows you to follow updates on the FIFA corruption scandal, which Ishmael says stemmed from a desire to keep up with ongoing news in a more targeted way. Next, the app may create a channel for SCOTUS rulings, or a specific alert for 2016 election news for hardcore political junkies.
The BuzzFeed News app becomes the company’s third-ever app, following the release of the pet-centric Cute or Not in February. BuzzFeed says a version of BuzzFeed News for Android will launch this fall.