Liz Arezina
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User Experience

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Overview

A day in the life of the average person is filled with hundreds of choices per day. What will I eat for breakfast? What should I wear today? Which way should I take to work? What should I listen to? Which coffee do I want? All before 9am. 

By the time they’ve made it home from work, they’ve experienced choice fatigue. All they want to do is decompress and empty their mind. They fire up their Apple TV and are faced with hundreds of choices all begging for their attention. But it’s spent. They’ve got nothing left, and so they scroll, scroll, and scroll with a blank stare until they reach the end of the queue. Frustrated and still without something to watch, they angrily turn off the TV and move on to find something else to fill the void.

Choice fatigue is real. A leisure activity like watching television should help get our minds off of all the day-to-day decisions, not add to them. This project aims to interject at that moment. To help people find just what they were looking for without having to think about it. To take one choice out of a day. 

The Task

With almost 60% of the population using streaming services to watch television, finding a television show to watch is becoming increasingly more complicated. In addition, audiences are expecting personalized experiences that reflect their personal and individual moods, wants, and needs for specific times in their schedule.

 

Category: User Experience

Role: Research, information Architecture, Interaction, Wireframes, User Testing

Tools: Figma, Sketch, Invision

Target Audience: Anyone using a streaming service to watch television

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The Goal

Take the thinking out of television show discovery, and make it quick to find something new to watch.

Target Audience

Target audience requirements were anyone who watched 10+ hours of TV a week, used more than one streaming service, and considered TV to play at least a moderately significant role in their life. A quick screener confirmed my hypothesis that this was the criteria for people who were actually having this problem. Those who did not meet this criteria did not have TV playing a large enough role in their lives to find this to be a nuisance.

The Challenge

In this project, the biggest challenge was content volume, organizational structure, and understanding how to categorize different content to be personalized to an individual user. Television is a highly specific piece of content, and so in order for personalization to feel authentic, I would have to uncover patterns in television show seeking. In addition to a massive amount of content, this was a solo project. While able to work independently, I find a variety of perspectives makes for more well-rounded research.

Design Hypothesis

I hypothesized that users were overwhelmed by the amount of content available across multiple platforms. I also theorized that many viewers were experiencing television shows beyond simply watching them, and that those experiences created a more immersive television experience for them. These hypotheses were based on my own personal experience as well as general conversation about the topic with friends and colleagues.

Planning

After forming these hypotheses, I set research goals:

  • Determine how people discover and experience television in an age of streaming services by examining consumption habits.

  • Understand the role that television plays in a viewer’s day to day social life.

I then recruited 6 users that fell within my target audience using a short screener to make sure they met my user criteria. My goal was for 5 in order to begin to see patterns. If I wasn’t able to identify any, I would have recruited more. I also chose an interview format for research because of the highly personalized nature of television selection. I wanted to be able to read between the lines and arrive at conclusions rather than having someone tell me how they think they navigated/interacted with television content.

My interview plan covered the following topics:

  • Examine current television consumption habits, preferences, and accessibility. This was to understand different browsing methods outside of my own habits.

  • Determine the positive aspects of the time before Netflix, Hulu, etc.  This was to gain insights about a time where there weren’t as many choices for what to watch.

  •  Understand television discovery habits in an age with so many different networks.  This was to understand the work-arounds people were already using to keep track of the shows they were following.

  • Understand how people further their experience around television beyond watching the show.  This was to confirm/deny my design hypotheses about television show discovery being an immersive experience extending beyond simply viewing the show.

  • Understand the communities that form around specific TV shows, how they function, and what value it brings to a consumer. This was to understand the role that television shows play in people’s lives so that I could understand just how many thoughts/interactions might happen throughout a day/week.

 
 

Using the qualitative data I gathered in my interviews, I then conducted an affinity mapping session. Through this, I was able to identify some common motivations for television show discovery.

  1. People want to find good stories that are interesting and relatable in some way to them.

  2. There’s a social motivation to watching the same TV shows that friends and co-workers are watching. Many find that watching the same shows as others allows them to be closer to people they might not have typically found anything in common with.

  3. Television is a way to pass the time. Viewers enjoy that they can cater content to the type of mood they’re in at different times in their schedules. Users want to be able to find personalized content faster.

  4. Users want to be able to find personalized content faster. Their lives are busy and they resent the amount of time they find sorting through bad content.

  5. There’s a fluid hierarchy system for how users decide to choose a show

    • Feeling excluded from general conversation amongst social circles and in pop culture

    • Trusted friend recommendation

    • How show fits within life (mood, schedule)

    • Personal Interests (genre, actors)

    • Impression (album art)

  6. Finding TV shows in common with people is an easy way for users to form connections with other people.

 
 

Refining the Problem

These insights helped me to refine the problem: Television show discovery is becoming a highly personalized experience with each household having a specific collection of networks, and each person within a household having individual tastes in content at different times. There is plenty of content to choose from but users need a solution to finding content they want to watch faster.

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Planning

Before designing the prototype, there was some groundwork that needed to be established.

I created a behavioral personas to help create empathy and assist in personalization. This was largely based on behavior categorizations rather than demographic information so that I could focus on real behaviors of real people.

I also established feature inventories (a laundry list of features I would like to include in the product and the level of importance to solving the problem at hand). These were established to help me discover what I needed to accomplish at an MVP level.

 
 

Finally, information architecture was laid out along with wireframes. I used the cupcake - birthday cake - wedding cake methodology to determine what would be included in the MVP.

My MVP requirements were as follows:

  • Must aggregate content from multiple streaming services

  • Must allow users to browse shows easily

  • Must follow the hierarchy system as stated above in terms of show discovery

While all learnings provided insight into how to make a successful application, I determined the hierarchy discovery would have the most impact on the experience because personalization ranked as one of the top things users found to be lacking in their streaming services. This learning drove the layout and hierarchy design of the discovery process.

 
 
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Competitive Analysis

I conducted a competitive analysis to asses the relative strengths/weaknesses of competitor products. While there were a few apps that were starting to handle the discovery of television decently, none tied in the social nature aspect. I chose to do a feature inventory so I could easily see which features were lacking in a majority of the app in the hopes I could identify an important feature that not a lot of other streaming services had.

 
 
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Design Decisions

One of the first decisions I made was what device to use. Research showed that people were hearing about TV shows when they were out and about. At dinner with friends. Talking amongst co-workers. While a TV or tablet app might have initially made sense, users most immediate need was for a device that they had with them at almost all times — their phone.

When designing this app, I took into consideration patterns that already existed in the services that users were currently using to stream television shows and other streaming services. By incorporating interactions and structure that was already familiar to people, my goal was to take the thinking out of navigation and help users to focus on the content.

Navigation

In the app, I used a combination of global and contextual navigation. The app has a lot of content to sort through and is highly personalized, so having a sub navigation would be important for users to narrow down their search results. A global nav is important for high level categories because there are going to be 3-5 main sections of the app that will be used for different things.

I’ve identified that related shows is a primary way that users discover television shows, which is why sub navigation is so important. Also based on my user research and persona interviews, there are multiple factors that play into what specific show a user will want to watch including mood, time of day, time allotted to watch TV, and company.

I began the design with paper prototypes so I could quickly test my design hypotheses on users and to quickly determine whether or not users would be able to intuitively navigate through the app. The navigation choices went over well and users were able to quickly move through the app and focus on discovering content.

Things that didn’t go over so well included: confusion between search and explore (that’s the same thing), filtering that got too granular (users would only go so far down the rabbit hole before they determined discovery was too difficult), and the random show generator (too new and confused users rather than helping them to discover a show).

 
 

Iterations and Testing

Following that exercise, I modified the designs (mainly navigational changes) and created wireframes. I also put together a low fidelity prototype for users to be able to interact with. Since the paper prototype navigation had gone over well, I didn’t anticipate too many changes. User testing sessions went well and I continued to refine through to a low-medium fidelity prototype.

 
 
 
 

Conclusion

This project was conducted for a General Assembly User Experience Immersive course. As someone who noticed a lot of UX holes in the organization I was in at the time, I wanted to broaden my skill set in order to help accomplish business goals.

This project has helped me to gain hands on experience and understand the basics of user experience design. I have learned how to conduct user research, identify pain points of users, push for creative solutions, create wireframes prior to prototyping, and iterate based on feedback to improve a product.

Next steps would be to finish the visual design for the prototype I’ve created. For the purpose of simply immersing myself in the world of UX, I’ve chosen to remain at this stage in the product for now. UI considerations would use audience considerations to inform color, type, layout, accessibility, privacy and all other aspects of design.

Success would be measured by two criteria:

  1. The quality of shows users would be able to discover on the app

  2. The speed at which users would find a new show they would want to watch

This knowledge has established a framework for me to continue to apply user centered design to all aspects of my work. The knowledge and experience I’ve gained is something I’ve used to enrich every design project I’ve been a part of ever since.