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People have always been interested in the news. News influence our lives, work, businesses, health and basically all the other spheres of life.
According to the recent research of the World Association of News Publishers, over the recent 5 years, a number of news subscribers grown in 208% and readers are willing to pay for news content now.
But the crazy year 2020 caused the rise of news consumption by 36 %.
This modern rhythm requires faster solutions. Newspapers now lie in the past and even news websites can hardly keep up to speed.
And nothing is as fast and convenient as aggregators in terms of news delivery.
On second thought, there are already a few leading news aggregators with millions of users. Is there still a place for your aggregator?
Below we’re sharing an analysis of the aggregator market, a summary of our 5-year experience with aggregator development and some tips on how to build your news aggregator in 2020 and make it unique.
Quick Intro: What is a news aggregator?
A news aggregator website (also known as a feed reader, newsreader or RSS reader) is a website or an application that collects stories and other content in one location, organizes and shows this information in a specific manner.
Are aggregators and news websites the same or different?
While news websites are represented by social media and post only original content, aggregators actually post syndicated content gathered from websites and other online resources. It is a crucial difference to know when you start to build a content aggregator website.
10 Key Features of News Aggregator Sites
There are a number of cool and unique features that can be implemented on an aggregator. But these features are not what you should start with.
Usually, we recommend that founders start with the features that the product cannot survive without. And whatever aggregator you aim to build, you’ll need the following 10 features.
Let’s discover how to start a news aggregator site.
1. Main page
The main page of every news aggregator has to contain all the valuable information about this new service. Usually, it comprises some welcome messages, a short aggregator description, key functions, and sources.
At this point, the main goal of this page is to welcome new users and actually prove that it is the aggregator a user should choose.
Feedly Main Page
Whether you’re wondering how to make a news aggregator for fintech, healthcare or science, your news aggregator app must have a feed.
In simple terms, the feed is just a list of the publications users can scroll through to get freshly published news.
Most modern news aggregators create special algorithms to make their feeds personalized according to the users’ favorite topics or types of publications.
Here AI technologies come to the rescue. For instance, in our project for CityFalcon, we used NLP to personalize the aggregator’s feed.
3. User Profile
It should be noted that this feature is not unique to aggregators, and is relevant to most online services. It also has to be taken into account when you build a news feed website.
A user profile gathers all the information about a user. A user’s profile has to provide such info as the user’s name, birth date, gender, profile picture and possibly even a short description.
User Profile at CityFALCON
Well, there’s no rocket science. The registration tool isn’t very difficult to develop, but it is required in any news aggregator.
Most aggregators prefer to personalize the content they give to its customers, give article recommendations or offer subscriptions. To use these features, the user should be registered to the system so the aggregator can track his or her activity to the preferences.
CityFALCON Registration Panel
5. Admin Panel
Surprisingly, an admin panel appears to be an underestimated feature, sometimes not even considered to be an essential one.
At Sloboda Studio we pay particular attention to creating an admin panel so it fulfills all management needs; like changing the interface, customization and many others.
6. Search and Filters
Well, everyone knows what a search engine is – a tool that allows you to find the publications you are interested in. You shouldn’t forget about this feature when you build your own aggregator. Users tend to use news aggregators to save their time and search efforts, which brings us to the need to build a comprehensive and solid search system.
The search tool is usually augmented with tags and filters by popular topics. One of the most useful tools for search integration is ElasticSearch, which allows for analytics of all data types.
CityFALCON Search & Filters
A mobile-friendly news aggregator site allows you to check your news feed using your smartphone, too. All the key functions should be displayed correctly, as they do in the web version.
Here you can see a news aggregator app Sloboda has created for SwipeNews – it is an aggregator designed for comparing various kinds of news.
As long as users find an aggregator easy to use, they might want to subscribe for permanent paid usage. However, simply having a well-designed home page appears not to be sufficient to make conversions. You may introduce a freemium business model and offer some free services to the users first.
Whatever model of engagement you choose, a clear and descriptive subscription page is a must for all the best news aggregator websites.
Feedly Pro Annual Subscription
9. Payment system
If you add a subscription service, you cannot avoid adding a payment feature, too. A payment system is a tool that allows aggregator visitors to purchase a subscription to your service.
But be careful when choosing your payment provider, some payment providers may be restricted in your target market. For example, though our team really loves the Stripe gateway, we have to use alternatives for our OAE clients. Similarly, Braintree doesn’t work in Australia.
10. Analytics Dashboard
The analytics dashboard is used to track and manage the information inside your service, whether it is a news aggregator website or any other web app.
As usual, it displays the performance indicators, metrics or key data points. It is a useful tool when you need to monitor your aggregator’s activity.
Google Analytics Dashboard
Tech aspect of building a news aggregator
As we have covered some business-related aspects of creating a news aggregator, let’s move on to the tech part.
Below you’ll find some highlights from our 6 years of experience working on aggregators.
Basically, a news aggregator service is not about some special tech stack. It might be an app or a web-site, and you should use the most appropriate technology for building it.
This technology should firstly meet your business goals. If your team has expertise in some framework or language, go for it. If it’s urgent to launch your product quickly, choose some startup-friendly technologies that speed up development – like Rails, Flutter or PHP.
Best technologies for aggregators
News aggregation methods
There’s no right answer concerning where to aggregate your content from, but it is safe to assume that collecting content may bring you both revenue and lawsuits. Let’s go deeper.
- Using a news provider’s API. This is a commonly used method for data collection: a provider company open access to the API allowing other systems to interact with its data. You can use such a method to make news aggregation process legal and inexpensive.
NB: Our client we mentioned above, financial aggregator CityFAlcon, aggregates articles via the Twitter API. This social network offers both paid and free APIs, which is good for news aggregators at the MVP stage.
- Parsing. The process of using parsing software to extract data from news websites and converting information into a format that allows you to use this data, and enters it into databases or spreadsheets.
On the one hand, such a method allows for getting more actual and detailed content than it would be possible to receive using an API. On the other hand, you will need to agree with all the requirements for parsing their content, otherwise, your actions may be considered illegal and cause really unpleasant legal consequences.
- RSS, or Rich Site Summary, is a web format that allows gathering articles from various sources to one aggregator. In short, actual articles are gathered from media resources to create a feed for your news aggregator with previews: the subscriber receives a brief description of the new message that appears on the site, and a link to the original version. In comparison to parsing, RSS doesn’t violate any copyrights.
News aggregation methods
Massive content processing may be a key feature of all news aggregator services. To keep it interesting for your users, an aggregator has to provide them with a large amount of quality information. If your data processing isn’t fast enough, your website may not cope with such overload and end up with system downtime.
To provide reliable and quick processing, you should use low-level programming languages or some concurrent computing frameworks such as Spark that support fast programming languages like Scala, C++ or Java.
Technologies for quick data processing
Implementing Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is a helpful and trendy solution for aggregators that can be used for:
Implementing a Voice Assistant
This can ease the search process for users by allowing them to voice-search for stories by topic, publication, time or other parameters. Currently, 10-15% of users find it more convenient to consume audio content, and with such an integration it is possible to grow your audience by this 10-15 % as happened with our client, CityFalcon.
Being empowered with NLP, a news aggregator remembers what topics the user prefers and creates a personalized feed without any repetition or invalid topics. Such a feature significantly improves user experience and can highly impact user retention.
Implementing an NLP-based chatbot
An NLP bot can assist users with on-platform tasks, helping with navigation, promoting new functions or helping users in some other way. This feature helps to build awareness about the product and helps you to retain users.
TOP News Aggregator Websites Examples
When you start building a news aggregator website, learning your competitors is one of the first steps.
Google News was one of the first market aggregators that brought the whole news delivery industry to a new level. Founded in 2002, it is available in 127 countries and in 35 languages on Android, iOS, and the web. At the same time, even such a complex aggregator could not fill the niche and other aggregator services began to emerge.
Below you can see the best news aggregator websites: Google News, Feedly, Flipboard, Pocket, and CityFALCON.
The best news aggregator websites comparison
1. Google News
One of the top news aggregator websites worldwide. Google News specializes in different kinds of general news without focusing on anything in particular. The feed is continuous and can be customized according to the needs of a particular customer.
- Founded: 2002
- Country: the USA
- Topics: Current events
- Platforms: Android, iOS, web
- Technologies: Google Analytics, PHP, Java EE
Google News Feed
The second one of content aggregator website examples is Feedly: a current news aggregator. An application compiles its feed using various sources, it can be customized and its users are able to share the news within the platform.
- Founded: 2008
- Country: San Francisco, California, the USA
- Topics: Tech, marketing, design, fashion, food
- Platforms: iOS, Android, web
- Technologies: Google Analytics, React, GSAP, Cloudflare
An aggregator that mostly focuses on blogs and follows topics such as business, tech, travel, politics, and beauty. Moreover, you can personalize your feed depending on your location and favorite topics.
- Founded: 2010
- Country: Palo Alto, California
- Topics: social network aggregation
- Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, web
- Technologies: Google Analytics, PHP, Amazon Web Services
A financial aggregator. Its score rates financial tweets, news, and authors by using Natural Language Processing and e-learning. For instance, customers get 30 relevant stories out of a selection of 200.
- Founded: 2014
- Country: the UK, London
- Topics: Investing, Trading, Stock markets, Tech
- Platforms: Android, iOS, web
- Technologies: Ruby, Rails, React, Amazon Web Services
Initially, Pocked appeared as a mobile-app service for saving articles to read later. It’s available for multiple mobile platforms including Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Kindle Fire, Kobo, macOS, web browsers, Windows, and Windows Phones. Though, today you can also visit a web version to check the feed.
- Founded: 2007
- Country: San Francisco, California, the USA
- Topics: online bookmarking, saving articles for later reading
- Platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Kindle Fire, Kobo, macOS, web browsers, Windows, and Windows Phones, web browsers
- Technologies: Google Analytics, PHP, jQuery
5 Tips for Standing Out in the Market
In most cases, for a product to be successful, it should either offer much more friendly pricing or stand out from its competitors in quality. While the first option is pretty understandable, let us turn to market differentiation.
First of all, we recommend performing market research, choosing your niche topic, and finding credible sources you can actually take information from.
Research your competitors
This step is a must for almost any type of product. It is not just relevant to building a news aggregator – it is always highly recommended to conduct a discovery phase to learn more about your competitors, their niches, topics, and target audience.
The discovery stage also includes:
- Deep analysis of the product idea
- Review of product requirements
- Evaluation of all the possible challenges & solutions
Pick the niche
As one of our clients said: “You not only have to have an idea, you have to have an idea people are ready to pay for”.
In the case of an aggregator, you have to find the area of news that people are going to pay for and what your competitors haven’t totally filled.
The more unique your product is, the more dedicated customers you will get.
Today, the most popular topics include:
- Current events
- Breaking news
- Government and politics
Use Sponsored Content
After you determine your market competitors and choose your niche, consider how you are going to make a profit.
NB: Don’t rush to start making money, you should gain some popularity and trust at first. Don’t expect to start making a profit right after your online news aggregator launches, but consider your future monetization models. As we mentioned above, a freemium model has notable benefits for new products.
Allow your sponsors to place their content on your aggregator in exchange for payment. Make sure your sponsors provide people with safe and quality products – this will strengthen your reputation as a responsible website.
These may be ads-free subscriptions or subscriptions that provide your users with unique content that is unavailable on your regular feed. Offer users some useful features they will be ready to pay for.
This will be perfect if the advertisement matches your aggregator’s key topics: this will look strange if your aggregator is dedicated to fintech and you are promoting something like food or clothing.
By being picky, you are showing your subscribers that you keep their interests and convenience in mind.
Sloboda Studio has been developing web applications for 10 years now. And we are proud to say that over the last 6 years we’ve been also working in news aggregators development as well.
Below we are sharing a couple of cases from our portfolio.
CityFALCON is a UK financial news aggregator. Its customers are investors and traders, both professional and amateurs. Besides private customers, CityFalcon also provides services for corporate clients.
As we started the project with an already built MVP, we knew we would face scaling issues. To eliminate the scaling problems, we added several servers to the DB, reducing the burden on the main server.
To personalize CityFALCON’s feed, we used Natural Language Processing and E-learning. Basically, CF is an AI news aggregator now: it scores rates on financial tweets, news, and authors.
Currently, CityFalcon is a constantly growing aggregator and has recently raised over $2.5M for further development.
SwipeNews is another UK aggregator Sloboda Studio worked with. This aggregator compares different kinds of news and presents them in different perspectives.
For SwipeNews, we have developed a holistic solution according to the logic of data processing. We made a system that is able to look through dozens of pieces of information, and find the right information for users. The system can filter it and put it in a cloud system.
The future of the news industry is aggregators. The story of aggregators began 20 years ago, yet it’s already not enough to just collect various pieces of news in one place – you need to personalize the feed, enable convenient search, or add some other high-tech features.
To summarize this guide on how to build an aggregator website:
- First, think about your advantages. As an example, you can stand out from your competitors by choosing a unique niche.
- Second, determine the main features of your future aggregator. Think about the functions that are required for your future website and your development with these functions in mind.
Only then should you decide on your tech stack. Consider adding Artificial Intelligence and data processing tools to make your aggregator convenient for your customers.
In Sloboda Studio, we have rich experience in working with web applications, aggregators and AI-related projects. If you’ve got the questions about your future news aggregator, feel free to reach us for a consultation.