Guided how-tos for podcasts

Giving audiences the tools they need to find and organize their favorite content.

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Podcasts are not only a creative outlet for content creators, but they’re also information-rich mediums for knowledge-seeking individuals to connect with their favorite experts and personalities. However, in comparison to YouTube’s 38 million channels, there are only about three million podcasts shows to date. This significant difference assumes that visual media is favored over audio amongst the general population. We wanted to uncover solutions for the Apple Podcasts mobile app that could generate a larger listening audience. 

Roles and Duration

Lead UX Designer (Team of 3)

  • ​User Research

  • Persona Building

  • Prototyping

  • User Testing

June – July 2020 (5 weeks)

Two Key Painpoints

After scouring message boards, social media comments, online articles, and app reviews, we used Miro to capture themes in user pain points and applied the How Might We Framework to get clarity on the most pressing areas for improvement.

1

When new users open Apple Podcasts, they are thrown into the app with no formal instructions or recommendations on how to get started.

2

Podcast shows and episodes are suggested on the home tab, but have to emotional connection to the user.

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One Solution

Build an onboarding experience that introduces users to podcasts and guides them through key points within the app, including how to search for content and setup a playlist.

Understanding User Habits and Circumstances

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Using SAP Scenes, we wanted to illustrate the circumstances surrounding a user’s initial experience with the app, and the impact the solution could have on their experience. Having learned from our research that podcasts encourage on-the-go consumption for inquisitive personalities, we built a persona and scenario for a busy professional looking to fill time during her commute to work. 

During this process we learned that our solution had to be extremely easy to follow with minimal distractions. Natalie should be able to find tutorials for a specific task without having to filter through long text or video. 

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Sketching and First Iteration Prototype

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Through fast sketching and choosing the best iterations in the batch, we developed a simple flow of guided tutorials that populate when Natalie first opens the app. She can choose to view the tutorials or jump straight into using the app on her own. 

Choosing the tutorials reveals a list of common tasks needed to get started, and is accompanied by popup guides that show Natalie where to tap next to complete the tutorial. 

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Usability Testing

Test Plan Dashboard

We established tasks, procedures, and objectives to ensure our team was on the same page as we began testing one-on-one with five participants.

Throughout testing, we recorded our notes in a Google Spreadsheet and found several themes that guided our second prototype iteration:​

  • Confusion on where to tap

  • Screens were cluttered/too much text

  • Prototype functionality didn't allow for more than one action

  • Screen titles looked tappable

  • No way to go back, forward/skip, or exit tutorial

  • Confusion with progress bar

  • Lack of color

Second Prototype Solutions

Removed images and color to be less distracting

Refined bottom menu to feel more authentic

Changed visual hierarchy to eliminate confusion over what's tappable and what's not

Improve visibility of tutorial prompts to make it easier to follow

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Key Takeaways

Task Analysis: Observe More Users 

For some usability testing participants, the tutorial felt like a barrier to entry. Though they have the option to skip the tutorials, performing a task analysis during our research phase could have ​led us to find alternative solutions to guiding users tasks without tutorials.

Create a Flowchart

Prior to creating the first prototype iteration, we jumped straight into sketching after our research due to time constraints. Our user scenario provided some insight into the user needs, but having a flowchart to better understand user interactions could have better informed the first iteration of our prototype.