From design averse to design junkies

This is the story of how we influenced a team giving very little value to UX to become Design Sprint junkies using our UX principles as their Bible!

BritBox is an American subscription based video on demand service featuring BBC and ITV content. It launched in March 2017 and is already very popular.

My role

Working as a Senior UX Designer, I am responsible for the UX across all our platforms — iOS, Android, responsive web, tvOS and Roku. I closely collaborate with our teams in the US and the agency who build our products.

Skills

  • 🛠 Prototyping for TV
  • 🎬 Motion design
  • 🔬 User research
  • ⛪️ Influencing skills
  • 🏝 Working with remote teams

The challenge

Having a track record of good collaboration and influencing skills, I was assigned to work with the BritBox team. Their understanding of UX was very limited. We were mainly asked to put colours into the wireframes the Product Manager (PM) would give us.

As this is not the way I work, I very rapidly challenged the wireframes and presented alternatives to the PM. I quickly managed to build trust and convinced him to let me take care of the wireframes, so he could focus on more important tasks. In order for the PM to keep feeling in control and for the team to better understand my process, I regularly organised design workshops where I would ask participants to sketch out ideas and collectively assess them.

How might we raise the perceived value of UX?

All this tremendously helped to establish a better design process, however I still had long opinion based debates with our President and SVP about design decisions. To help bringing more data to the table, I wanted to run some user research, but received the typical answer: “I know our users. We don’t need research!”. During one of those lively debate, I managed to convinced them to run a quick web based click test with our users. As this was cheap and easy to do, they agreed. The result allowed to take a quick decision based on data that everyone felt comfortable with.

How might we redesign our Roku app in 8 days following a human-centred approach?

After this success, and with the support of my Head of Design, we kept showing the value of doing user research until the day I got ask to “quickly redesign our entire Roku TV app for next week”! Roku is our most popular platform and we received many complaints about it from our customers. Because of all the work we did to help the team understand better the value of UX, I managed to convince them to let me spend a few more days on the project. With this additional time, I would conduct some user research to understand the root cause of our customers’ complaints and make sure our redesigned app fixes them.

The approach

My stakeholders wanted to move quickly, so I drafted a 8 days plan, detailing how we would collaboratively use data and user insights to prototype and test our new Roku app. My approach was convincing enough and a few days later I was in the plane to New York!

Preliminary user research

I started to conduct some contextual enquiries with 10 users, to find out more about their pain points using our current app. I also asked them to show me how they use other streaming apps, so I could learn about their behaviours.

Contextual enquiry

Co-analyse research findings

To make sure everyone had a clear understanding of the research findings, we analysed them together with my stakeholders from Product, Marketing, Editorial and Business.

Affinity mapping of the research findings with the stakeholders

Key insights

Behaviours

  • Our audience is is relatively old and moderately confident using technology
  • Users want to be perceived as knowledgeable and cultivated
  • They browse the app to find specific show instead of using search
  • They switch between devices and watch from different places

Pain

  • Easy to get lost in the app
  • Hard to change seasons
  • Hard to add programmes to watchlist
  • Hard to find where the watchlist is

Gain

  • Want a quick way to see informations about the shows

Ideation workshop

Using the research findings, we came up with the design challenge below. We used it during an “ideation” workshop with the key stakeholders.

How might we redesign the Roku app so that it is:

  • Simple to navigate
  • Fast to browse and discover new content
  • Easy to play from where I left off
  • Easy to get back to content I like

The goal of the workshop was to come up with as many ideas as possible to solve the design challenge. After going through a process to stimulate creativity and idea generation, each participants created 1 poster with their best idea.

Ideas from the stakeholders

Select one idea

The following day, we selected our favourite idea using dote voting and various other techniques. We used the research findings to help guide our decision.

Selecting the winning idea

Winning idea’s key characteristics:

  • Simple interface reusing the “rail” pattern in all the pages.
  • Displays the metadata without having to open a brand page
  • The home page emphasis on both discovery and resume playing
  • The brand page main focus is on playing the next episode
  • In the brand page, the seasons and related content are easily accessible

Prototyping

I spent the following day building a quick prototype that could be hooked up to a TV monitor and controlled using a remote control (or your keyboard).

Homepage
Show page
Episode selection

Usability test

We conducted 5 round of usability test and analyse the findings as a team. Using the results, we iterated the designs and created the set of experience principles below to help guide all our future design decisions and discussions.

Outcome

Experience Principles

Our users should to be able to:

  • Understand where they are and be able to easily navigate the app.
  • Discover and learn about new contents frictionlessly
  • Play content from where they left off with a minimum of effort
  • Easily get back to content they like
  • Clearly understand the link between the metadata and the selected content. The IA should be clear and consistent
  • Find the interactions predictable and not be surprised by unconventional behaviours
  • Not be overwhelmed by the information density

Refined designs

Using the usability test findings and the experience principles, I refined the design further.

Navigating down the homepage

I made the header always visible so users would better understand where they are in the app. I’ve also repeated the selected content’s image to strengthen the link between it and the metadata. Reducing the size of the image made it less overwhelming and allowed me to add some transparency to give a better sense of where the content goes when navigating down the page.

Homepage’s continue watching rail

Once the user selects a show, he will be directed to the “Show” page. From there he can easily play his next episode or browse for more seasons and episodes. We wanted the page to feel like you’re almost playing the show, but didn’t wanted to start playing automatically. Our research findings indicated it wouldn’t be well received. I moved the episode’s metadata lower in the page to avoid confusions with the show’s metadata from the homepage.

Play your next episode

User can navigate to a different episode by navigating down the page. There, I changed the position of the metadata once again to make the connection between it and the selected episode stronger.

Browse episodes

The last step was to use the designs and research findings to write a request for proposal with the other members of the team. We’re now in the process of selecting an agency that will build the new BritBox app. I’ll then closely collaborate with them to adjust the designs and monitor their progress.

Conclusions

In the very short amount of time I was given, we managed to successfully redesign our Roku app using a rigorous collaborative user-centred process. The result was very well received and the team members found the process very useful and productive.

In addition, after running this process with the team, I saw a dramatic change in their behaviours toward UX. They asked to run more sprints, our design discussions are much more productive and they often refer to our Design principles. This puts our UX team in a great position to increase our strategic impact.



Disclaimer: This article represent my personal views and not those of the BBC.

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