The Problem

Podcasts are a growing entertainment medium, unfortunately, they’re also a solitary or “underground” activity for most. Unlike television or movies where sites like Hulu and Netflix have created advanced, digital methods of distribution, discovery and community are often cited as problems amongst people who listen to podcasts.

 

 

Exploratory Research

I went to three main sources to start discovery and validate my hypothesis about my product. The first was reddit’s /r/podcasting forum. The second was family and friends. And the third was a design meetup to talk to other tech savvy individuals outside my own network.

 
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I asked a variety of questions including:

How do you find or discover new podcasts? What are your pain-points around podcasts? Do you talk to others about podcasts or bring them up in conversation ever? How many do you listen to? Where and how do you listen?

Lots of notes

 

I used the findings from these interviews to construct two main personas:

 
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Adam “The Enthusiast”

28, Engaged, Works as an IT Administrator Lives in NYC

 

Behaviors and Habits

Adam is technically savvy, generally an early adopter but cautious with spending. He likes to stay up to date on his various interests ranging from video games to history, and also things going on in his industry (IT, tech, and web design). He loves learning new things and staying up to date on current events and pop culture.

Stories and Frustrations

He’s found himself bring up topics he learns on podcasts in normal conversation, but rarely does he mention the podcast itself. Frequently, technology seems to get in the way of sharing podcasts with others. When he tried to get his mom to listen to Serial but she didn’t understand how to access podcasts through her phone/iPad.

Needs, Problems, Goals

Generally, he’s not looking for new podcasts, but when his favorites don’t update regularly enough, he will seek out new things to listen to. However, he’s more likely to go through the back catalog of his less listened to podcasts. He feels like if he could get his friends to listen to his favorite part of podcasts, they’d also like it.

 
 

 
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Aimee, The Multitasker

30, Married, Works as an Account Manager for a small creative agency Lives in Nashville, TN

 

Behaviors and Habits

Aimee listened to podcasts once in the early 2000s, but lost touch after she stopped using her iPod Nano. She has since begun listening again with the rise of podcasts like Serial. Aimee likes listening on her phone while working to keep her focused. She loves literature, movies, TV, and nerd culture. When she’s not listening to podcasts, she’s listening to books on Audible or curated playlists on Spotify (either theirs or her own). She occasionally listens on her commute.

Stories and Frustrations

Aimee most often sticks to podcasts she knows, and doesn’t know how to find new ones that she’ll reliably like. Because she is busy between work, family, friends, and her other interests and hobbies, she doesn’t have time to invest in discovery. She doesn’t bring up her interest in podcasts in normal conversation because it seems like a niche hobby and she doesn’t think any of her friends also listen “unless they’re in the podcast closet.”

Needs, Problems, Goals

She’s interested in finding new things to learn and listen to, but the few times she strayed outside the two podcasts she already listens to, she only found one she liked. Occasionally, she’ll mention topics she learnt on podcasts but doesn’t bring up the fact that she learned it on a podcast. She’d like to be able to share these snippets or interesting facts, and to be able to talk with others easily about podcasts she’s interested in, without feeling like she’s the only one.

 
 

 

Competitor Research

I looked at four main direct and indirect competitors

 
 
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Overcast

Podcast App Main Competition. Has sharing functionality but its not obvious. Clean, Elegant UI

 
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Apple’s Podcast

Default Podcast App on iPhones. Linked to the core idea of podcasting in general

 
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Medium

Highlighting and Sharing functionality is a core part of the experience. Clean, Elegant UI

 
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Repost

Instagram “Regram” App 3rd party app. App that adds a single piece of functionality to an existing app

 

Card Sort to find information architecture

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Generating a hypothesis and starting design

 

Hypothesis:

How might we facilitate sharing of podcasts in an efficient and easy to use manner?

 

Feature Prioritization:

Now

  • Has to access podcasts

  • Be able to listen to episodes

  • Share Clips

  • Access saved clips

Next

  • Discovery of new podcasts

  • More robust clip saving feature

  • Playlists

Later

  • More robust playlist feature

  • Integration with other apps like Soundcloud

 

User Flow Sketches and Site Map:

 

Validation Sketching

 

Wireframes

 

Invision Prototype

Initial Invision prototype I used for usability testing. Link Here: https://invis.io/FJRURXMBRGA#/127656664_Episodes_View

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Iteration

What Worked and what didn’t?

  • Not everyone understood clip saving functionality

  • Most people understood bottom navigation

  • People who fit the personal understood both easily

Validated Assumptions?

  • People seemed to react positively to the concept

  • High learnability. Once they did it, they understood (opportunity for on-boarding)

  • Wanted to be able to access playing now all the time/save clips easier/on the fly

  • Wanted to be drag timeline to adjust length/content of clip

 

 

Revisions

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Used POP app to create quick prototype of revised behavior

  • Users who were used to bottom bar, missed it.

  • Liked the ability to edit clip in detail

 

 

Final Designs

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The Future

This project was initially done in 2016 for a class project, and I’ve grown a lot since then as a designer. I think it would be an interesting concept to revisit and there are many things to be improved upon, particularly in the UI and visual design elements. If I ever revisited this project, I would like to build out the remaining screens, revisit the interaction design of clip saving and sharing, and continue testing. The world of podcasting is more widespread but in many ways the same as it was back then, so I think the concept could still be viable.