Case Study

How might we make it easier for podcast listeners to find content based on their interest?

Cloudcast Case Study Cover Photo

Brief: To design a podcast mobile app that can bring even more utility to the user than a book ever could.


Note: The following case study is part of a design challenge.

💻 Figma File

The problem

Podcasting and audiobook is a growing industry with limitless potential. But how do we bring the same experience of reading a book to an audio-based listening platform?

“If you’re reading, it’s pretty easy to go back and find the point at which you zoned out. It’s not so easy if you’re listening to a recording” | Time Magazine

“Podcasts might be a useful tool to supplement or enrich course-related material, but they are not as effective as text for delivering primary content.” | Taylor & Francis Online

The goal

With these pain points in mind, my goal was to create a more joyous and memorable listening experience for podcast listeners who travels to work daily.

Research

To begin my research, I started to look at a few competitors or similar platforms, analysing UI, UX, User flow, IA and key features.

Cloudcast Case Study Competitive Analysis

User interview

Cloudcast Case Study Interview

I conducted user interviews with a sample size of 8 participants, who are regular podcast listeners. Some of the key questions asked include:

  • Can you recall a time when you had a significant or memorable experience with a podcast that you enjoyed?
  • Can you recall a time when you had a bad experience with podcast?
  • What’s the first thing you look for in deciding which app to use?

Key insights from user interviews were placed onto an Affinity Map and grouped into emerging themes. These themes are ranked from lowest to highest priority.

Cloudcast Case Study Affinity map

I also mapped the response and thoughts of the user to understand their environment and emotional connection.

Cloudcast Case Study Empathy Map

Key findings and insights

Summarising the research that I’ve conducted, below were the notable insights that stood out:

😩 “I can’t find topics that pique my personal interest and intrigues me”
😢 “I feel lost and confused when using the app, where do i go from here?”
😄 “I love listening to podcast when I’m doing activities that requires less attention!”

Who are we designing for?

Cloudcast Case Study Primary Persona
Primary User Persona
Cloudcast Case Study Secondary Persona
Secondary User Persona

Frustrations

  • Feeling lost when finding new podcasts
  • Overwhelmed with titles that do not relate to them such as global popularity, top 100 in Australia
  • Recommended titles are not tailored to their interest
  • Difficulty filtering content to show podcasts that they might be interested in
  • Frustrated when unable to recall what happened in previous episode when resuming podcast

Needs

  • Wants to listen to podcasts while doing activities such as cooking, going to gym, running, driving to work
  • Wants to be presented with contents that they know they will enjoy
  • Seeks simple intuitive controls with clear indicative labels
  • Wants to “bookmark” or save short clips into a personal collection for future reference

Now that I have the user personas, I proceeded to map out the current journey of the listening experience to identify pain points and opportunities.

Cloudcast Case Study User Journey
Reframing the problem
After collecting all the insights and findings, the problem statement is then reframed for innovative thinking:

How might we make it easier to help users find content based on their interest?

Let’s start with solutions

With the user’s pain points in mind, I started conducting brainwriting sessions, Crazy 8s and storyboarding to generate possible solutions and features to improve the overall user experience.

Prioritisation based on high impact value

These ideas were then plotted onto a prioritisation matrix to help narrow down what was absolutely crucial and viable for delivering the MVP.

Ultimately the goal should make content discovery easy for the users.

Cloudcast Case Study MVP Matrix

From the prioritisation matrix, I decided to focus on the onboarding and end-listening experience of the user.

Design

Now that I know which areas to focus on, I proceeded to map out the new user flow for a better overall view of the user journey.

Cloudcast Case Study Information Architecture

Lo-fi wireframes

Onboarding — Interest Selection

An onboarding interest selection is not a new idea, but one that is lacking in many existing podcast applications.

When a user first launches his podcast app, they will be greeted with an interest selection screen that will help display curated content that is related to the user’s interest on the home screen.

Cloudcast Case Study Wireframe Onboarding Screen

End-listening — Voting

At the end of each podcast, users will be prompted to make a vote — to like or dislike the podcast that they have listened to. The app will then generate recommendations based on their decision to give them a seamless listening experience.


Cloudcast Case Study Wireframe End-Listening Screen

Usability testing

Onboarding — Interest Selection

Before: Users were unsure why the onboarding interest selection circles were sized differently and would love to have sub-categories.

After: Circles were adjusted to size consistently to avoid confusion, sub-categories to show upon clicking main category.


Cloudcast Case Study Usability Testing 1

Interest re-selection button

Before: Users found the filter button on the navigation menu unnecessary as it is something that won’t be adjusted too often.

After: IA has been adjusted to relocate filter button into account settings.


Cloudcast Case Study Usability Testing 2

End-listening - Voting

Before: Users think there are too many things to look at on the voting screen and might overlook voting.

After: Autoplay function removed and recommended podcast to only show after voting to display more accurate and relevant content.


Cloudcast Case Study Usability Testing 3

Hi-fi designs

Cloudcast’s style guide was developed with the user persona in mind. The orange colours was chosen to reflect the user’s personality — motivated and productive.

Cloudcast Case Study Style GuideCloudcast Case Study High Fidelity Design

Interact with the final prototype here 👈

Inspiration:

The bubbles in the onboarding screen were inspired by the early stages of Apple Music’s onboarding process in 2015:

Cloudcast Case Study Apple Music

I found the bubbles fun to interact with and were visually attractive. Hence I adapted a similar approach rather than just letting users select from a list of dropdown topics.

Hi-fi prototype usability testing

Before: From the hi-fi usability test, users found that better curation of content can be made by adding an additional step upon voting no.

After: A selection of answers is displayed to allow users to specify why they did not enjoy the podcast before displaying podcast based on their answer given.

Cloudcast Case Study High Fidelity Design Testing

Conclusion

By letting the users choose the topics they want to listen to at the beginning of their listening experience helps give the user a more personalised journey with the app. Rather than listening to generic recommendations that are not tailored to their interest, users can now listen to podcasts that can relate to.

The voting experience also helps the app learn what the user likes and dislikes, which in return recommends them better title suggestions. This will give the users a seamless listening experience rather than them having to think what to listen to next.

Final usability testing quote from user: “This is such a cool idea! If this podcast app is available to download, I will actually use it”

Learnings

This project has given me an understanding of the importance of user validated solutions before working on the actual designs. Coming from a graphic design background, often times we start designing without laying the groundwork first — which is researching on what is the most viable, feasible and desirable possible solution for the users?

Another important takeaway from this project is that there can be many solutions to a single problem. The key is to keep reminding myself, who are we designing for?

Thank you for reading!

‍Hopefully you enjoyed this case study. If you have any feedback, I’d like to hear from you. Say hello at brianfoong@gmail.com or connect with me on LinkedIn 😉