A platform for connecting the podcast listening community.
Although podcasts have been around a long time, they’ve recently been gaining a lot of traction within the on-demand audio global market. Although there is no shortage of creators and listeners, there lacks a community platform for listeners to. Podist will be a platform concept for engaging and fostering podcast community. It’s goal is to drive audience growth and engagement by extending the experience of podcasts into an interactive social community.
Podcast popularity is growing rapidly. Podcast listening grew to 21% of the U.S population in 2016. For context, 21% of the country uses Twitter. Furthermore, this is not a passive group. Weekly podcast listeners consume five shows per week on average and are 13% more active on social media channels than the rest of the U.S. population.
Currently, most of the audience is listening through the iPhone Podcast app, which comes pre-downloaded on all Apple devices. With such a dedicated and social community this app offers very limited capabilities to engage with the podcasts and the podcast community.
Edison Research Podcast Consumer Report
After researching the current available apps and the forecast for the podcast industry, I created a research plan with the following questions:
- What is most important to avid podcast listeners?
- How can we foster a community surrounding podcasts?
- How do people engage others with podcasts they’ve listened to?
- Do podcast listeners have interest in looking back on past episodes?
- Are podcast listeners interested in connecting with people who listen to the same podcasts as them?
Through my research on podcast listening habits, I created a persona that was the most popular demographic for an active podcast consumer. This provisional persona served to narrow the focus of my research.
I interviewed 4 avid podcast listeners about their listening experience and how it could be improved. The biggest complaints were that podcasts were:
- Podcasts are difficult to share
- It’s hard to keep track of podcasts within the iOS Podcast app.
With these insights, I surveyed over 30 active podcast listeners to confirm that these issues were affecting other podcast listeners.
These participants were able to confirm many of the insights I found in my interviews. Avid podcast listeners want podcast listening to be social and they desire a better system of organization for the amount of podcasts they listen to.
- 80% of participants wanted to be able to see what their friends were listening to.
- 77% of participants were interested in cutting snippets of podcasts to share.
- The majority of participants have difficulty referring back to podcasts previously listened to.
- Most common complaints about the current Podcast app:
- Finding new podcasts
- Sharing podcasts
- Organizing podcasts
After understanding and empathizing with frustrations podcast users have, I crafted a UX strategy blueprint for Podist.
- Ease of use: People listen to podcasts most often when they are driving or preoccupied with another task, they want quick seamless access to the content
- Differentiation: With many social media platforms to interact on, this platform needs to be distinct, but not require a lot of maintenance for the user to upkeep
- Acquisition: The Podcast App comes downloaded on all Apple devices upon purchase. So there needs to be a stronger trigger in order to motivate them to switch
- For podcast listeners to easily share podcasts
- Discovery of podcasts through connections with other podcast listeners
- To connect the podcast community
- Content first and foremost, social sharing second
- Use cases: Listening and saving podcasts, recommending a podcast to a friend, and creating a sharable snippet of a podcast
- Areas of UX: creating an intuitive platform through tested information architecture and straightforward interaction design
- How often users are opening the app
- How often users create or share snippet
- Number of users
Following my UX strategy, I created an application map that would address the primary frustrations of current users. Content comes first, but a strong emphais social integration is a close second.
The main differentiator of Podist compared to other app’s on the market, would be the ability for users to cut a snippet of a podcast to share with others. The goal for the user flow is make it efficient for users to send a snippet and get right back to listening to the podcast.
With the application map and userflow, I crafted the initial wireframes of Podist and linked them in InVision to test my assumptions.
With my wireframed prototype, I conducted in-person and remote usability tests. I learned about the issues in these designs:
- Adjusting where to start/stop cutting a snippet from the podcast player wasn't clear
- The filtering menu on “My Podcasts” wasn’t noticed by users
- The options “New Episodes” and “All Episodes” on the channel page are vague
- User’s expressed desire to be able to post from the feed page
- User’s were not sure where to look for messages
So I set out to fix these issues. Goals for next iteration:
- Improve usability:
- Rethink the way users cut a snippet. Snippet creation needs to have more visual clues to enable a more precise cut
- Create menus that prompts users to interact with it
- Enable more options to be available for sorting episodes within a channel
- Increasing social integration:
- Add the ability for users to post directly on the feed page
- Make messages more prominent for users
At this point, I shifted focus to add the brand identity. All podcast channel’s brand themselves with a square thumbnail to distinguish themselves. The challenge for Podist’s UI would be to create an interface that could display their artwork, but not clash with them. I decided to focus Podist’s brand identity using select key words: innovative, social and minimalist.
With these I created a mood board with an emphasis on gray's and white. I paired the modern and highly legible Avenir with friendly button’s to encourage social engagement.
I added the UI elements and colors to the final design. The goal was to keep the interface straightforward and consistent, while still providing a high level of functionality for the user.
A solution to the previously overlooked menu, was a more prominent menu that is engaging and interactive. As users swipe through the options the tiles shift by the filter. If they go to the very end of the menu they have the option to create a new custom filter so they can organize the podcasts that compliments their listening habits.
For increased consistency and improved functionality, the same menu is integrated on the podcast channel view. From the podcast channel they can search by keyword, filter by podcasts they downloaded, most popular, or view their listening history for this podcast. When a podcast episode is tapped, the full description is revealed as well as the options to add the podcast to Listen Later, Recommend it, and Save it.
- Listen Later: adds episode to a queue available on My Podcasts.
- Recommend: posts episode to feed and profile.
- Save: Adds the podcast to a save queue. Similar to listen later, but created for users to reference their favorite podcasts.
Users need a precise cutting tool that they can use on the go. The audio bars help users visualize where podcasts may fall silent. The time elapsed and total podcast time moved along the audio bars. To improve the accuracy of a snippet, users can also scroll the audio player left and right.
Once a snippet has been cut on the podcast player, a user can fine tune the snippet, trim off content, and add a title. A title is automatically generated for the user using the time stamp of the beginning of the episode along with the name of episode and channel.
A user can easily send the snippet to friends that are already on Podist. The snippet is sent to the user through Podist keeping communications about podcasts all in one place.
From my research I found that one of the main frustrations was finding new podcasts to listen to. I solved this by giving the podcast community the ability to see what their friends are listening to and recommending. Users can view each others profiles which include channels they've recently been listening to, their recommended podcasts, as well as their posted snippets.
A Discover page gives recommendations based on frequently listened to podcasts, as well as giving the ability to find podcasts on top charts or by category.
From the first iterations, I set out to further encourage social engagement on Podist. Users are now able to recommend a podcast or post directly from the feed page and messages were added to the bottom navigation for quick access.
To compliment the mobile platform, I created a website that enable users to listen from their computer, engage with friends, browse podcasts, and create playlists.